Providence Community Safety Act: 12 Key Points
The proposed Community Safety Act (CSA) is a city ordinance passed on June 1st 2017. It was developed after years of community meetings about how the police should function in our community and how to hold them accountable. Below are some of the key provisions of the proposed ordinance:
1. Prohibition on racial profiling and other forms of profiling – Police cannot use race, ethnicity, color, national origin, use of a foreign language, gender, gender identity and/or expression, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion, housing status, physical or mental disability, or serious medical condition as a reason to suspect someone of a crime.
2. Electronic Data Collection Report – Every time police stop someone, they must fill out a report with the date, time, and general location of the stop; race or ethnicity, gender, and age of the individual(s) stopped; reason for the stop; if there was a search, and the results of the search; how long the stop lasted; results of the stop (item(s) seized, ticket, arrest, nothing); and officer’s name and Federal Identification Number. The individuals(s) stopped will be able to request and receive a physical copy of the report within 72 hours of the stop.
3. Video Recording by Police – For dashboard cameras, body cameras, and any other devices, the police department must establish public policies regarding its use, including when recording must start and end. Subjects of police recordings will be notified of such recording and have the right to view/listen to the recording. On duty police cannot use their personal phones to record anyone unless they are subject to the same policies as department cameras.
4. Video Recording by People – Police cannot interfere with, harass, demand identification from, or intimidate members of the public who are recording audio or video of police activity in any place that individual has a legal right to be. Police cannot intentionally block obstruct cameras or other recording devices. Police cannot damage or destroy recording devices or cameras not delete and/or alter recordings or photographs under any circumstances.
5. Traffic Stops – Police have to tell the driver why they were stopped before they ask for any documents and can only ask for driver’s license, car registration and proof of insurance, unless they have probable cause of a criminal offense. Police can’t ask passengers for ID without probable cause of a criminal offense. If the only criminal charge is driving without a license, police cannot arrest the individual; they can only give the individual a summons to appear in court. Traffic violations are not enough to arrest someone.
6. Searches – Police must inform an individual of their right to refuse consent to the search. Searches will be performed by an officer of the same gender identity as the individual being searched. The police department will develop public policies and protocols for how officers will conduct searches of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.
7. Surveillance and Privacy – Providence Police cannot engage in targeted electronic surveillance to collect information about lawful activities of targeted individuals or groups without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or warrant. Police cannot engage in an undercover capacity with groups in non-public places based solely on the exercise of First Amendment rights.
8. Privacy – Youth and Immigrants – Police can only ask once a youth under the age of 18 for identification and must accept any statement of that youth that they do not have a form of identification. Police cannot photograph youth, with certain exceptions, and any photographs must be destroyed within 90 days, with exceptions. Police may not inquire about an individual’s immigration status, and any identification issued by a government outside the U.S. like a consular ID, foreign driver’s license, or passport, will be accepted the same as an ID from a U.S. government agency.
9. “Gang” list – Individuals have the right to inquire whether they are on the ‘gang list’ and informed by a written notice within 10 days. The notice will explain the right to appeal and the process to appeal the individual’s inclusion on the ‘gang list’. Before adding any individual under the 18 years of age to the ‘gang list’, the Police Department will provide a written notice to both the individual and their parent/guardian. If the individual is not convicted of any crime within two years, their name must be removed. Every year, Providence Police must produce a report with the total number of people on the “gang list,” and a breakdown by age, race, ethnicity, and gender, and the number of people who have appealed being put on the “gang list.”
10. Language access – The Police Department will create a language access hotline. Officers who don’t speak an individual’s language fluently, may not question that individual until a qualified interpreter is present. Police may not use family members, friends or bystanders as interpreters except in emergency. Miranda Warnings, and all other important written materials, will be available to an individual in their primary language. At each police building signs must be posted in the 5 most commonly spoken languages stating that interpreters are available free of charge.
11. Collaboration with other law enforcement agencies – Formal agreements between Providence Police and other law enforcement agencies will be deemed public and posted to the PPD website. A police officer cannot detain an individual on the basis of a request from another agency, such as ICE. The Providence Police Department is not permitted to comply with requests by other agencies to help in operations enforcing federal immigration laws. Providence Police Department will abide by the ordinance at all times, even when working with other agencies.
12. Accountability and Enforcement – Quarterly reports of all violations of this ordinance, as well as data collected pursuant to previous sections of this ordinance, will be posted on the Police Department website and provided to the City Council. The Providence External Review Authority (PERA) will have power to review and recommend that Public Safety and Police Department budgets be reapportioned toward youth recreation and job training programs for failure to enforce this ordinance. PERA will authorized to review proposed labor agreements between the City of Providence and sworn officers