Worcester police bodycam video - drug arrest

On at least 23 occasions between May and October 2019, bodycams recorded Worcester officers using force in some form. But the department has declined to release video from all but three incidents citing various exemptions under the Massachusetts public records law.

The released footage provides a glimpse at how Worcester police use force, but the withholding of most of the videos underscores an overlooked aspect of bodycam policy: that it's often very difficult for the public to view videos, even though the devices are pitched as way to hold police accountable.

Last May, Worcester police kicked off a six-month bodycam pilot program. At the time, Chief Steven Sargent highlighted "transparency" as one of the reasons why the department was embarking on the pilot.

"We hope to use our body cameras to increase transparency, resolve complaints, de-escalate volatile situations, and improve our training," Sargent said. "Our officers amazing work day in and day out, and we have confidence that this will be captured in the footage."

Worcester police union president Dan Gilbert has also called bodycams an "unbiased third-party account of circumstances."

Worcester is on the march toward a permanent bodycam program. Worcester City Councilor Sean Rose recently proposed spending at least $3 million to outfit every officer with a body camera by January. Rose has also highlighted transparency as a reason to get the cameras — but acknowledges the city has a lot of work to to create policy that allows the public to access bodycam footage.

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By: ThisIsButter (44151.30)

Tags: Cops, Suspect, chase, Arrest