Justice Department provides $1.5M for police body cameras in R.I.
The grant will be used to equip more than 700 front-line patrol officers across 11 police departments
By Tom Mooney
The Providence Journal
PROVIDENCE — The U.S. Department of Justice week provided Rhode Island a $1.5-million boost toward its goal of equipping all police officers with body-worn cameras by the end of next year.
The grant will be used to equip more than 700 front-line patrol officers across 11 police departments: Central Falls, Cranston, Jamestown, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Pawtucket, South Kingstown, Warwick, West Warwick, Woonsocket and the Rhode Island State Police.
In June, state lawmakers and law enforcement leaders endorsed a plan to equip all of Rhode Island's 1,700 uniformed police officers with body-worn cameras within 12 to 18 months.
At that time only two police departments, Providence and Newport, required the use of body cameras, according to the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association.
In announcing the grant, Attorney General Peter F. Neronha said in a statement: "The pursuit of justice is a quest for truth, and police-worn body cameras can be a powerful tool in that effort."
In addition to aiding police in gathering critical evidence, Neronha said body-worn cameras "promote transparency, further helping build trust and confidence between law enforcement and members of the public."
He thanked Rhode Island's congressional delegation for helping secure the $1,526,000 grant.
In August, Neronha and Col. James Manni, head of the state police and Rhode Island's Department of Public Safety, announced they would seek public comment before drafting a uniformed policy on body-camera use.
Among the important policy matters to be settled are: when should cameras be turned on and off, how the public should be notified of recordings and what privacy protections should exist.
Following the initial gathering of public input, Neronha and Manni will draft police rules and host public hearings.
Narragansett Police Chief Sean Corrigan, incoming president of the state police chiefs association, said the combination "of our officers' high professional standards and the openness this technology allows will only strengthen the great relationship we have with the community."
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