NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Commissioner of Police (COP) Paul Rolle yesterday reiterated his position on the release of body camera footage in police encounters, insisting that serious matters, such as police-involved killings, will be handled in court.
Rolle’s comments come amidst ongoing calls from the public to release footage from interactions with the police — the most recent being the arrest of a suspect which resulted in two dogs being shot.
Last August, the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) rolled out 200 body-worn cameras and 200 dash cameras in patrol
The COP has previously noted the public should not expect the release of footage to be similar to the process followed in the United States.
“When the case is heard, those evidence will all be unsealed and will be available at that point once they have been tendered in court,” he explained.
“It wouldn’t be immediately after the shooting, but they will have access to it eventually.”
Rolle indicated that certain footage from body-worn cameras of pursuits and other “encounters” could be released to the public.
“There are times where we may need to provide information to the public where we may require assistance from the members of the public — those will be released,” he continued.
“But clearly if it’s something where it will be going to the court, how much of that can be released to the public because it is going to be tendered in court as evidence.”
Rolle added: “We have to guard the evidence at all costs. The access involved do not have access to that evidence and once the evidence is taken from the system, that is then stored on the device that goes to court; so, we don’t keep them.”
There were 20 incidents of police-involved shootings in 2020 that resulted in 11 deaths, according to police statistics.