Maine Law May Exempt Police Body Camera Footage from Public RecordsGovernment Technology February 27, 2017
Sig Schutz discusses Maine's public record law as it applies to police body camera footage.
With $400,000 earmarked to outfit the police department with body cameras in fiscal year 2019 and a preliminary plan to pilot the technology before then, city officials seem to agree that the devices would be a boon for community-police relations and transparency. But the refusal to release video from Saturday’s shooting highlights the way in which Maine’s exemption-riddled public records law might limit the technology’s usefulness when serious questions are raised about a police officer’s behavior.
“What’s happened over time with the public record law in Maine is it’s turned into Swiss cheese,” said Sigmund Schutz, a First Amendment lawyer and partner with Preti Flaherty in Portland. “There are just so many exemptions to it, and some of them are ambiguous and open to broad interpretation.”