Open records, or cop safety?

Amendment would keep hometown of law enforcement officers confidential

Posted

Two incidents in the past year – a situation in which a Warwick police officer shot a dog that attacked him, and an accident in which an officer hit and killed a pedestrian who was crossing West Shore Road – have Warwick Police Chief Col. Rick Rathbun leaning toward endorsing legislation that would keep the hometowns of law enforcement officers confidential.

Currently, open records legislation requires that the hometown of municipal and state employees be made public. The street address is not public under the law.

Attorney General Peter Neronha favors the proposed change in the open records law that came before the House Judiciary Committee for a hearing Wednesday. The committee did not vote on the legislation, and as of Friday companion legislation had not been introduced in the Senate.

Nonetheless, the measure has stirred debate on the management of sensitive information that has become increasingly accessible in this digital age where so much is shared on social media – including the hateful and vitriolic comments of people who hide behind pseudonyms.

In the two Warwick cases, Rathbun said the officers received online threats of violence to them and their families that had him concerned for their safety.

“There are always going to be people dissatisfied with the police department,” the chief said. “No one is ever happy when dealing with the police.” He added that the higher in rank, the greater the officer is put in the spotlight.

“I want your police department to be transparent,” Rathbun said. He said the department abides by the open records law and provides information when requested. Officers are required to give their name and badge number if requested.

“We don’t hide who we are,” he said.

He pointed out that when an officer is charged with a crime, the name is released.

“When an officer goes rogue, that’s released. The law is the law to release that,” he said. Such situations are the exception.

However, Rathbun is concerned for the safety of the department’s men and women and wants them to “come to work not worried about someone knocking on a door [at home].” He said he wants officers to feel confident that the department will protect the privacy of their homes.

Reached Friday for comment, Steven Brown, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, said everyone is concerned for the safety of law enforcement officers. He added, however, “I don’t believe that [keeping the hometown of an officer confidential] will help that in any way…the practical impact is not there.”

He argues making the hometown confidential is a “very small step” from keeping the name confidential. Furthermore, he observed that most personnel records are kept secret.

At the hearing last week, Ryan Holt, lobbyist for the attorney general, spoke in favor of the legislation introduced by Rep. Dennis Canario of Portsmouth. Holt told the committee the attorney general’s office received feedback from law enforcement after finding that Pawtucket violated the open records law when it refused to release the hometowns of its police officers. Like Rathbun, the concern raised was over the safety of officers.

In a statement received Monday, the office of the attorney general said, “We believe that the law as currently written requires, without any balancing of competing interests, the disclosure of the city or town of residence of all public employees, including police officers. That said, we recognize that, given their unique role among public employees, disclosure of this information with respect to identified, specific police officers may pose a risk to the safety of those officers and their families. In light of how we interpret the current statute, an amendment to the law is the only solution if the General Assembly wishes to afford a greater degree of security for law enforcement officers and their families.”

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scot63

If this is for officer safety something they always use as an excuse, then don't be a cop if you are afraid!!!!!

Tuesday, February 18
Ben Dover

HEY, Mr, ACLU, you Mr. Steven Brown....What's your home town? The panhandlers are waiting for you to make breakfast for them.

Tuesday, February 18
Satisfied Resident.

I have to say I am very pleased with Colonel Rathbun. He does indeed appear to be very transparent and I like the direction he is taking our cities police department. I appreciate his candor.

Warwick was long overdue for a new Chief. Mayor Solomon made a good choice in this instance.

Rathbun clearly is able to weigh the public interest with that of the safety of his officers. And he isn’t afraid to explain his rationale. I find his style very reassuring.

We are lucky to have such a fine police department. And the rank and file appear to be lucky to have this chief’s leadership.

Tuesday, February 18
Johnny Sweat Pants

Does Johnny Pajamas care to weigh in on this proposed legislation?

Tuesday, February 18
Robert

He wants the hometowns of police to be hidden from the public. I don’t understand. Don’t all Warwick cops live in Warwick? And if their addresses aren’t disclosed then what’s the problem. We should know where all these cops live. They are becoming increasingly corrupt and this is in part because of the RI gun laws that basically have disarmed the citizenry. When we are finally disarmed which is the dream of these corrupt cops, then all the freedoms we have left will be gone. Notice the doublespeak. He wants transparency while keeping things hidden.

Tuesday, February 18
Robert

Also, ask Rathbun what degree Freemason he is. Then you’ll realize he loyalty is not to your protection

Tuesday, February 18
PJ Olsen

I can understand the concern for Law Enforcement Officers, look at what they deal with all the time. Their families need to be protected.As a Warwick resident I don't know why anyone would feel uncomfortable or believe what the skeptics say. If it were your son or daughter serving on the Police Department all of you know damned well you would want the highest degree of anonymity for the officer and his family. Once they leave work, they don't bring anything that transpired during their beat home with them. They too need some normalcy other than arresting people and keeping our neighborhoods safe!

Wednesday, February 19
scot63

I believe there should not be a double standard here as they want their privacy but yet they can drive distracted while checking your personal information on there computer. Now they even want to allow them to have tinted windows so nobody will recognize them!!!! DOUBLE STANDARDS!!!!!

Wednesday, February 19
SaltyJake

Interesting to see NO COMMENT from Johnny Semeno on a police article.......must be the coward in him.

Wednesday, February 19
davebarry

While I don't think they couldn't get the info anyway, domestic victims have more rights of privacy than the cops that protect them.

Wednesday, February 19
John Simoneau

I will respond to my two COWARD idiots above. Saltyjake, I use my real name always so unlike you, the word coward is only used by you in describing me, while at the same time you will never speak to me face to face .... COWARD.

The reason why I didn't post to this story is because it is, as it should be, a no brainers. When the AG speaks up in support, it is a done deal, as it should be. No police addresses, not just town they live in, should be released. You know where they are cops, and you can contact them there if/when you need to. Besides, anyone with half a brain can probably find the address if they really want to. The legislature shouldn't make it easy.

Are you two idiot COWARDS above, that wanted me to post, happy now?

So you can come up from your basement keyboard, and see your mommy now, it is probably your feeding time!

Wednesday, February 19
Billy T

A big thank you to Johnny Pajamas for weighing in on this story. With all of the opinions his has on a myriad of stories, you would think he would run for city council, mayor, state senator, state representative, etc.

Heck, why go for those local seats-let's nominate Johnny Pajamas for president-his campaign slogan could be "coming at you live from my musty and mold ridden Oakland Beach basement-vote Johnny Pajamas for president!

Wednesday, February 19
John Simoneau

You COWARDS can't read, just stupid, or both. Probably the later. As I've said before here; I would never run for any office because ALL POLITICIANS are even lower than FAKE NAME COWARDS on this blog, and that is really saying something. ALL POLITICIANS are the lowest of the low, CORRUPT SCUMBAGS.

Since I'm not, nor would I ever want to be, I don't meet the prerequisite to become an elected official.

Wednesday, February 19
Johnny who?

This is a tough one. Generally, secrecy like this proposal can lead to more bad than you'd ever suspect. I support first responders, and the police should get our highest gratitude, but I just dont see this secrecy move as necessary or good. As John Simoneau pointed out, it is easy to find people anyway nowadays with the internet and google. I just cant get behind this one yet.

Thursday, February 20
Billy T

Finally we get some good news, and that's the announcement from Johnny Pajamas that he is neither capable nor qualified to run for elected office. That's not surprising, as he was also not capable nor qualified to be a police officer, which is precisely why the Providence Police Dept. got rid of him.

Thursday, February 20
John Simoneau

Like I said, you can't read COWARD. I'm more able than any current politicians, but I CHOOSE not to run, and work with CORRUPT SCUMBAGS. That happens to be why I CHOSE to leave the PPD. Bunch of dopes, or CORRUPT SCUMBAG POLITICIANS wearing uniforms. You wish you could earn what I make a year COWARD.

Now go away with your lies and COWARDLY comments, until you grow a set to allow you to say anything you have to my face. You won't though, because you are a loser, FAKE NAME COWARD.

LMFAO

Thursday, February 20
ThatGuyInRI

"Officers are required to give their name and badge number if requested."

This is very interesting, it seems that not all WPD officers follow policy.

I was pulled over on Post Road last April by WPD officer who refused to identify himself when I asked.

The reason I asked was because he was rude, condescending, and unprofessional. Yes, I was going a bit too fast, but that did not necessitate the officer in question screaming at me like a petulant child. I told him there was no reason to yell at me to which he responded by raising his voice even louder and stating "You think this is yelling? You don't know what yelling is!" At which point I asked for his name and badge number and he refused. Very professional.

The officer was a white male, likely in his mid to late 50's, about 6 feet tall (hard to tell when you're sitting) a somewhat thin build, with nearly all grey hair. If you get pulled over by this guy expect to be treated poorly. And I'm a fellow white male in his 50's so I can only imagine how this guy treats someone who doesn't look like him.

Thursday, February 20
John Simoneau

He didn't give you a ticket, which is very expensive. If he did, you would have his name and badge number, and I'm sure even more upset. Slow down ... lol

Thursday, February 20
Patient Man

scot63, LEO's have children. Don't be that guy.

I recently needed to send a card to an old friend whose address I didn't know. I googled her name & town. I got her address, her age, her husbands name. Ridiculously easy for people with bad intentions to find someone. I don't want my address to be public knowledge or easily attainable online. People are crazy. I definitely don't want my friends and family in law enforcement's address' known to people that would do them harm. Town of residence is one piece of the puzzle if someone means them harm. Friends in a major metro PD use PD HQ as there home address on their drivers license & auto registrations.

Thursday, February 20
scot63

ThatGuyInRI, This i why you should always record the police!!! This is your 1st amendment right!!!!

officers like him is why i have no respect!!!!

Thursday, February 20
scot63

Patient Man, Like i have said if LEO are so worried about their safety then they picked the wrong job!!!!

To bad If they can know my personal information then the same applies to them!!!!

Thursday, February 20
SaltyJake

Johnny, Johnny, Johnny........ your tough-guy act is wearing on me. I tire of your ignorance and stupidity as I'm sure most people are......Remember, there is always professional help available to you.

Thursday, February 20
John Simoneau

Saltyjake

I'm sure not as much as your ZFAKE BAME COWARDLY CHILDISH POSTS. News flash .... it ain't an act, so grow a set and come talk to me face to face..... COWARD.

No more posting replies to fake name COWARDS on this Beacon blog, until they come talk to me. I will let everyone know when one of THESE COWARDS , grow a set and take up my invitation. Don't hold your breath though ... lol

Thursday, February 20
Cat

For the safety of the police officer and their families, the addresses do not need to be public. It is a safety issue and it should be respected. Regardless of whether or not they knew of danger before taking the job. Don't put innocent lives in danger.

Thursday, February 20
Johnny The Liar

For anyone who wants to see the true Johnny Pajamas, click on the Beacon story about police officers addresses being shielded from the public. In the comment section of that article, Johnny Pajamas writes:

"I CHOOSE not to run, and work with CORRUPT SCUMBAGS. That happens to be why I CHOSE to leave the PPD. Bunch of dopes, or CORRUPT SCUMBAG POLITICIANS wearing uniforms. You wish you could earn what I make a year COWARD."

Well Johnny The Liar, previously you stated you left the police department due to a "work related injury", and now you're saying you left the police department because you didn't want to work with "corrupt scumbags " (your words). So what's the true reason why you left the PPD? Was it your inability to get along with others or your desire to grab a phony disability pension and screw the taxpayers?

Moving on to your next statement "You wish you could earn what I make a year COWARD", why don't you grow a set and inform the readers exactly what you mean by that. Reading your statement, it sounds as if you make a pretty hefty TAX FREE pay check every month. Please feel free to share with the readers how much you screw the city of Providence every month, and let them decide if your phony injury disability check is fair, or if your real reason for leaving was because you were a dirty corrupt cop who was on the take, and city was getting ready to can you anyway.

The readers anxiously await your response Johnny Sweat Pants.

Thursday, February 20
Pepperidge Farm Remembers

It's funny to see Johnny Sweatpants rant and rave about fiscal responsibility and worrying about the taxpayer. It's even more peculiar when a little birdie (since so many of your former co-workers hate you) told me about Mr. Sweatpants being involved in a lawsuit against the City of Providence where he was fighting to keep his yearly 5% compounded COLA and his free healthcare for life. The case is Abad v Providence but I'll put a link to the case here so you don't have to search. https://casetext.com/case/abad-v-city-of-providence If you did search you might get caught up in all of the times Mr. Sweatpants was disciplined and his brother couldn't protect him so he had to go to bill of rights hearings. Who would have thought that the guy who gets in front of the city council and uses vulgar language was disciplined for conduct unbecoming for using vulgar language? Not to mention misogyny for discriminating against Rhonda Kessler and other females where he worked. I even heard they filled his district with all women once to try to cure his misogyny but it didn't work...Johnny just went crying to his brother. Here's another link for you. https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/1934504/in-re-simoneau/

So back to the matter at hand. JSP pretends to be a taxpayer advocate here in Warwick, but files lawsuits against his former employer to maintain a set of benefits that are far more lucrative than are offered to employees in Warwick.

The very definition of hypocrisy by a misogynistic, stalking, ranting hypocrite who gets his rocks off claiming "Tick tock" and "say it to my face" bragging about his guns like he's a real tough guy.

Maybe that's why JSP stalks and harasses Donna Travis so much. The only female on the Warwick City Council would be the only target that a misogynist would be tough enough to try to intimidate. That's a real coward in my book (since you use that term so much you hypocrite)

You're a real tough guy Johnny. Don't change though, not that you'd be able to. We look forward to you embarrassing yourself every Tuesday and Thursday. It's like "Tick-Tock" clockwork.

Thursday, February 20
John Simoneau

Loser ... liar and slanderer ... so you have to use FAKE NAMES .. So you don't lose when I sue you ... lol

FOR THE RECORD, I was found NOT guilty, and the only females that I have a problem with are ones that didn't do their jobs like KESSLER, who was found guilty and busted from Sgt to Ptlwm., and Donna Travis the corrupt Council member that was found guilty by RI Ethics Commission AND The RI Board of Elections ...

COWARD ... Just give up like Providence and Travis did because you and them are NOT SMART enough to beat me.

Just go away now.... LOSER .... COWARD ....

Thursday, February 20
Slander?

You can't claim slander when what was posted is the truth and the poster actually provided cites to what was said.

That's like first year law student stuff. Were you really a cop?

You being ashamed doesn't make it slander.

If you're ashamed of your past maybe you should make some life changes for the future.

Thursday, February 20
John Simoneau

It's not the truth, and that is the truth..... lol

FAKE NAME COWARDS .... If you could read you would know that dope. I'll read it to you if your mother is busy....fool. Just meet me and you'll then get the truth, SO CRAWL AWAY IDIOT ... YOU KNOW NOTHING BECAUSE YOU ARE A

C .... O .... W .... A ......R .... D

Done with COWARDS ..... ENJOY THESE DOPES BEACON READERS

Thursday, February 20
Billy T

Once again, Johnny Pajamas is back to his old nonsense of "come and meet me" , "face me like a man", "put your head on a swivel", etc., etc. Face it Pajamas, you have about as much credibility in this city as your buddy the felon gasoline dumper/animal gasser. Maybe for your next act you can ride around the city with him filming fire trucks. It would fit your limited mentality perfectly and would get you out of your musty mold infested Oakland Beach basement a little more often.

Friday, February 21
John Simoneau

C.....O ......W ......A ........R ..........D

Friday, February 21
Mrs simoneau

Please send Johnny home it's time to change his diaper

Friday, February 21
Unreal

You know john, you talk a lot of sh*t for someone spots all over your own mirrors.

Why don't you tell us why you hate Donna Travis so much. Lets be honest..it has nothing to do with politics. Its personal.

I mean, you and DT are practically related, aren't you John?

Saturday, February 22
Unreal

You know john, you talk a lot of sh*t for someone spots all over your own mirrors.

Why don't you tell us why you hate Donna Travis so much. Lets be honest..it has nothing to do with politics. Its personal.

I mean, you and DT are practically related, aren't you John?

Saturday, February 22
John Simoneau

Unreal .... even though you are another FAKE NAME COWARD I will answer you this one time.

I hate no one. I am not related to her, and I don't like CORRUPT POLITICIANS. That is exactly what she is. A union bought and paid for, CORRUPT SCUMBAG POLITICIAN.

Now go away, all you FAKE NAME COWARDS, unless you have something to say about the story you post on, otherwise no more talking with you dopes.

Saturday, February 22
Be fair and stop fighting

I wish you people would just stop it. Cote was exonderated from the gas allegation. JP has every right to criticize Travis as a under-performing local pol (to say the least), and anyone has the right to film public workers if they wish. I personally wouldnt, but they have the right all day long.

The actuaries have agreed the city finances are a concern due to obligations that will drive up taxes and cut into services if not corrected.

Lets work together to get the city on a sustainable financial condition. And stop making it personal. That means the FF side and also Simoneau too. Just knock it off. The rest of us do NOT want to read this crap to find the few really informative comments.

Saturday, February 22
RISchadenfreude

I suggest that scot63 set the example: Print his name and address for the public; of course, the only people that will likely pay him a visit will be wearing white coats and carrying a "long-sleeved" jacket.

Monday, February 24
scot63

That would be great , i welcome it!!!! Then i will let you know how it went!!!

Tuesday, February 25
ThatGuyInRI

John Simeneau

I didn't get a ticket, thus did not get a badge # or name. He couldn't tell me why he pulled me over he just wanted to scream at me for some reason. Eventually I asked if I was free to go and he begrudgingly said yes.

Scot63

Sadly it seems that you're right. Being a middle aged white guy with two car seats in the back, it never crossed my mind that I'd be harassed by the police. I don't exactly fit the profile of someone who gets that type of behavior.

Lesson learned. Should I ever be pulled over anywhere, the phone will be recording everything. Sad world we live in.

Thursday, February 27