PROVIDENCE, RI – Forty-two local and state police agencies will receive $16 million in grants to equip about 1,773 officers with police body cameras.
The RI Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, the RI Department of Public Safety, Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association, and the state’s Congressional Delegation and state legislators gathered Wednesday to announce the combined grants allowing purchase and use cameras governed by a recent statewide policy setting standards for their use.
Neronha and Col. Darnell Weaver, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and director of the Department of Public Safety, were joined for the announcement by law enforcement and elected officials including Narragansett Police Chief Sean Corrigan, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Congressman David Cicilline, Senator Jonathon Acosta (D-16, Central Falls and Pawtucket), Representative José Batista (D-12, Providence).
“Today is good day for all Rhode Islanders, as we equip front-line police officers across the state with a helpful tool that will benefit them and the public by assisting critical fact finding and building community trust,” said Neronha. “In an increasingly technological age, where judges, juries and the public expect to see the evidence on which they are to make decisions and render judgments, making body-worn cameras broadly available makes perfect sense. With today’s funding announcement, we have removed a substantial monetary barrier for many municipalities that continuously juggle critical priorities. This has been a collective effort, and I am grateful to everyone, including leaders in the General Assembly, the Governor, members of law enforcement, and our Congressional Delegation who have made today possible.”
“Outfitting our Troopers and members of law enforcement with body-worn cameras is a key milestone as we work to address the issues that are challenges in policing today,” said Weaver, “Cameras will add transparency, provide accountability, and give a point-of-view perspective – to every police contact. I expect that cameras will foster greater trust between citizens and their police departments, helping to lower complaints and improve relationships. These cameras will substantially improve the quality of evidence we collect and conduct investigations more efficiently.”
In June 2021, Governor Dan McKee signed legislation creating the Statewide Body-Worn Camera Program to equip every frontline police officer with body-worn cameras. The Attorney General and Department of Public Safety, in consultation with the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association, were tasked with implementing the program, including promulgating rules and regulations to create statewide policy and eventually administer funding for departments to deploy body-worn cameras to officers.
In December 2021, Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation secured a $1.5 million Department of Justice grant to supplement state funding for the program.
Under the program, state and municipal police departments applied for grant funding to cover the projected cost of a camera and related hardware, software, and storage, and an agency’s significant administrative costs in operating body-worn cameras. All funding is to be used to operate body-worn cameras over a 5-year period and awarded funds will only be distributed on a reimbursement basis, safeguarding taxpayer dollars.
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