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Somerville Legislator Wants To Make Police Body Camera Footage Unavailable To Public

A police body camera worn by a police officer in Methuen. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
A police body camera worn by a police officer in Methuen. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

A proposal to exempt recordings made from police body cameras from Massachusetts' public records law is being heard by a legislative committee at the State House.

The bill (H.2120) was filed by Rep. Denise Provost, a Somerville Democrat.

The public records exemption is part of a wide-ranging bill that would also create a task force charged with establishing statewide standards and regulations for bodycams worn by law enforcement officers.

Secretary of State William Galvin, a Democrat whose office oversees public records, is urging lawmakers to reject the proposed exemption, calling it "completely unwarranted and unacceptable." He says it could defeat the goal of improving transparency through the use of the devices.

Galvin says state law already protects against the release of sensitive information, such as that which might identify victims or witnesses.

(Courtesy Twitter)
(Courtesy Twitter)

Thursday's hearing is on legislation related to law enforcement and training.

In May, Boston police officers began training on how to use body cameras. As of June, the department said nearly 200 officers would be wearing the gear. At that time, police officials said in a statement that body cameras provide "an opportunity to showcase and enhance the department’s commitment to transparency."

With additional reporting from WBUR's Newsroom

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