- Associated Press - Friday, January 23, 2015

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island says the Providence Police Department has videotaped peaceful demonstrations during the past two years without a policy to govern the practice.

The ACLU asked Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré (pah-REE’) Thursday to stop the recordings. The organization says the practice raises serious First Amendment concerns, especially when there’s no reason to suspect criminal activity.

Paré says videotaping public gatherings is an established law enforcement practice, and footage is only reviewed when a crime occurs.

The ACLU cites five occasions where it says police were seen recording demonstrations. Two demonstrations cited were in response to grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York.

The ACLU says it learned through a public records request that the department doesn’t have policies governing such surveillance.

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