OXFORD, Ala. (WIAT) — One police chief is warning residents that if they make false complaints about officers’ actions, he’ll post body camera video of the interactions to social media.
Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge posted the new “policy” to his Facebook page after an incident last week.
Partridge said the trouble began after a neighbor claimed that an Oxford officer almost shot him in his yard. The man posted the claim to social media and it went viral.
After officers reviewed the footage, Partridge said the man’s story was untrue. Partridge decided to post 30 plus minutes of body camera footage so that neighbors could judge for themselves.
“All agencies need to be transparent. People need to know what’s going on in their community, when false accusations are made or if the allegations turn around and the officer did do something, we’re going to put that out there,” said Partridge.
The actions of some police officers have come under fire in recent years. Body cameras have been touted as a way to separate fact from fiction.
In last week’s incident, Partridge said an animal control officer was called to a home in Oxford after reports that a dog had escaped.
The homeowner comes to the door after the officer knocks. In the body camera video, you can hear the man accuse the officer of beating on his door.
On Facebook, the man later posted that he almost got shot in his yard and that the officer beat down his door over a dog.
After the man’s social media claims, Chief Partridge felt that posting the body camera video would help put the entire incident into perspective.
“I immediately called the Captain and told him to review the video and we found out that it was totally false,” said Partridge.
During the recorded exchange, the man tells the officer that he is recording too. OPD has been wearing cameras for years, but recently switched to a newer model.
Citizens have started recording interactions with police, after allegations of mistreatment in other places across the country.
Chief Partridge said the lense works both ways. He isn’t afraid to post police video if neighbors begin to make false complains about officers on social media.
“These men and women put their lives on the line every day to protect us, and if I don’t take up for him, who is going to?” asked Partridge.
Often times, a suspect may try to make a false complaint or report in an effort to get a criminal charge dropped or a traffic citation dismissed.
While, Partridge believes in transparency, he also believes in making sure information is accurate.
“I’m sure it keeps us in check as well as the public in check. We have checks and balances there, but when people make these types of inflammatory remarks, we’ve got to respond to it, because if we don’t, it causes a problem in the community between law enforcement and the community because people believe what they read,” said Partridge.
According to Partridge, body camera video of major crimes, including officer involved shootings, may not be subject to immediate release. Police must get with prosecutors to determine what can be publicly released without hurting an investigation.
In routine calls however, Partridge said he’s not afraid to start posting interactions or criminally charging people who make false reports.