The city of Memphis removed the public webcams after images of what appeared to be abuse and neglect were revealed to the public. Interim director James Rogers has indicated that the public can still see what’s going on by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for security camera footage. These very costly requests are sometimes ignored by the city or delivered with significant content missing. An expensive FOIA request that may or may not be fulfilled is not the equivalent to public access to the webcams. Further, the city says requests must be filed quickly as the data is overwritten within days. If the public had access to the webcams, viewers could notify the city of a FOIA request for a specific camera view and targeted time period before the footage is overwritten. Without the public webcams, filing a FOIA request for the security camera footage is a shot in the dark.
The animals at the Memphis pound deserve the protection afforded them by the public webcams. How many more employees have to be charged with animal cruelty before meaningful reform, including transparency, is instituted at the pound?
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