PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With 25 controversial new license plate cameras turning on soon in Providence, the three candidates for mayor are split on the new technology.

12 News asked each of the mayoral candidates about the new Flock Safety cameras during tapings of’s Pulse of Providence in recent days.

Brett Smiley expressed support for the new cameras, while Gonzalo Cuervo and Nirva LaFortune both said the cameras should not be used until there is regulation by state or city lawmakers. All three candidates are Democrats.

“For something of this magnitude, I think it’s important that it go through the City Council,” said LaFortune, who is co-sponsoring a resolution asking the city to halt the cameras. “I have significant concerns about this. I do understand the importance of implementing technology to increase safety in our city, but this wasn’t the best approach.”

Smiley said he couldn’t speak to the process of how the cameras were rolled out, but said he supports them.

“I’m very open to and supportive of the use of this kind of technology to help make our city safer,” Smiley said. “I think if it saves one life or helps return one kidnapped child, that temporary check of the plate against a known database can yield public safety improvements and progress.”

Cuervo said the cameras should be regulated by the city or state before being used, and noted there was legislation considered by the General Assembly earlier this year that did not make it to a vote.

“Technology’s moving at a very fast pace,” Cuervo said. “And technology can be incredibly helpful. And I’m sure that camera technology is incredibly helpful in solving a lot of crime. But there needs to be regulation. We cannot let our public policy and our privacy be determined by private vendors.”

At a news conference Wednesday, Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré defended the decision not to bring the cameras program before the City Council for approval.

“We’re hoping that the public understands the purpose of this program, solving crimes … that we don’t need legislation dictating how we can use this technology,” Paré said.

The one-on-one interviews with the candidates are all being released this week as a special Pulse of Providence series. Cuervo’s interview was released Tuesday, LaFortune’s interview is set to be released Wednesday afternoon, and Smiley’s episode will be out on Thursday.

Steph Machado ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.