R.I. Accountability Project exposes inner workings of police departments

R.I. Accountability Project exposes inner workings of police departments

PAWTUCKET – A new organization called the Rhode Island Accountability Project is dedicated to bringing greater exposure to the inner workings of local police departments.

Organizers of the project are requesting internal affairs reports from departments all across the state and posting them on their website, www.riaccountabilityproject.com . The backers are asking to remain anonymous to avoid potential repercussions.

The inspiration for the group was the Rhode Island Supreme Court’s decision not to allow the release of facts surrounding a graduation party hosted by Caleb Chafee at the Exeter home of his father, former Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Caleb Chafee was accused of breaking social-host laws and a teenager was injured during the party.

The mission of the Rhode Island Accountability Project is based on a quote from Patrick Henry, one of the founding fathers of the United States.

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them,” it states.

The volunteer coordinators of the project say they’ve uncovered numerous issues through their public records released so far, including a Lincoln police officer who admitted to having sex with a woman while on duty and ended up resigning.

The group is also keeping departments accountable with how they answer requests for police reports. In some cases, like with the North Providence Police Department, complaints have been filed after requests for information have been ignored. In other cases, like when Pawtucket officials released Social Security numbers of people involved in investigations, they’re calling for officials to tighten up their processes.

Pawtucket Director of Public Safety Tony Pires said the release of Social Security numbers was a mistake. He said he issued a notice to those impacted by the disclosure and told them that the city would be providing them with identity protection if they chose to accept it. So far, the city has gotten about three calls from people looking to take the city up on the offer, said Pires.

The site administrators say the goal is to keep their database up to date at all times, with all recent internal reports posted. Requests so far have been for the past two years of internal reports.

One of the lead organizers said the site was created as a “nonpartisan, totally nonjudgmental” forum that offers facts straight from police and lets the public decide whether departments acted appropriately. If someone makes a complaint against a police officer, they should in theory be able to go to the site and look up their particular case to see how the complaint was handled.

Names in the reports are blacked out, but the facts of the investigations are mostly included.

In some cases, volunteer researchers are privately funding large payments demanded in exchange for documents requested.

The website provides users with details on the Access to Public Records Act, an APRA submission form, and a template for how to make a request.

The new site would not work without the many volunteers across the state who are submitting APRA requests and then forwarding the information to the administrators of the site to add to the database, said organizers.

The site’s creators said some departments have been “overwhelmingly helpful” about getting information to the requesters, while others have delayed responses or not responded at all.

Comments

No records, empty, says a lot about NP jumping on the band wagon of Access to Public Records Act by our police department.

North Providence Files are up!! Very Interesting!

to rethink jumping the gun grarnold? NAH!!!! probobly not right????

Probably.