Maine Law May Exempt Police Body Camera Footage from Public Records
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.”