The Office of the Attorney General (RIAG), Department of Public Safety (DPS), and the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association (RIPCA) announced that a statewide program to equip police departments with body-worn cameras has received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The grant award, first announced by U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David N. Cicilline, will expand funding for the statewide program that seeks to equip more than 700 frontline patrol officers across 12 police departments, both municipal and state.
“The pursuit of justice is a quest for truth, and police-worn body cameras can be a powerful tool in in that effort,” said Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. “In addition to aiding law enforcement in gathering critical evidence, body-worn cameras promote transparency, further helping build trust and confidence between law enforcement and members of the public. I am incredibly grateful to our Congressional delegation for their work in securing this significant funding for a program that will benefit all Rhode Islanders.”
In July, Rhode Island enacted a statewide program that aims to equip every frontline police officer with body-worn cameras. The RIAG and DPS, in consultation with the RIPCA, are 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 2022.
The RIAG, DPS, and RIPCA partnered together to apply for the Department of Justice grant in late July. With a focus on urban core communities and communities with high-poverty census tracts, the application sought federal dollars where they were needed most. The application was supported by Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation and numerous partners in law enforcement. The request was fully funded.
“Body worn cameras are an essential piece of equipment for officer safety and accountability. This grant brings the Rhode Island State Police and many of our municipal law enforcement partners one step closer to being fully equipped,” said Colonel James M. Manni, Superintendent of the Rhode Island Stat Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety. “I especially want to thank our Congressional delegation for their support and the team at DPS that worked to secure this funding.”
In August, the program implementation team began the public process for establishing a statewide policy for the use and operation of police body-worn cameras. To date, members of the public have had the opportunity to submit written input and provide input at a public meeting.
Following the initial gathering of public input, the Attorney General and the Director of the Department of Public Safety will promulgate draft rules establishing the policy, at which point the public process will continue with public hearings and additional opportunities for public input.
“I greatly appreciate the work of our public safety partners and the Congressional delegation for their assistance in securing this funding,” said Narragansett Police Chief Sean Corrigan, incoming President of the RI Police Chiefs’ Association. “I know 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. This is one more important step in fulfilling every promise of the Twenty for 2020 Campaign of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association.”
The $1,526,000 award will expand funding available to equip body-worn cameras for 12 police departments, both municipal and state, including: Central Falls, Cranston, Jamestown, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Pawtucket, South Kingstown, Warwick, West Warwick, Woonsocket, and the Rhode Island State Police.
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