PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island's attorney general is supporting a change in the state's open records law that would no longer make the hometowns of police officers public information.

Attorney General Peter Neronha would support a bill that would prohibit any community from releasing a police officer's hometown, the Providence Journal reported Wednesday.

Neronha spokeswoman Kristy dosReis told the Journal on Wednesday that “we recognize that, given their unique role among public employees, disclosure of this information with respect to identified, specific police officers may pose a risk to the safety of those officers and their families.”

The bill limiting public records is sponsored by Rep. Dennis Canario, of Portsmouth, who said he introduced the bill because “today's society is not what it was 10 years ago.”

He added, Police officers now have “become targets. All I’m trying to do as a former police officer is to protect them and their families.”

But the attorney general's support has disappointed open-government advocates.

“I think everybody shares concerns about the protection and safety of police officers. But a bill like this does absolutely nothing in that regard and represents another erosion of a strong open records law," Steven Brown, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island, said before Wednesday’s hearing.

Linda Lotridge Levin, president of Access Rhode Island, also opposed the bill, telling lawmakers that taxpayers deserve to know where their officers live, as it could relate to how invested they are in the community where they work.

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