SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island State Police Colonel James Manni, tasked by Gov. Gina Raimondo to create a plan to increase officer accountability, said he fully supports the use of body cameras by state troopers.
Raimondo unveiled her “RIse Together” vision on Monday, which calls for a more “equitable and resilient Rhode Island.” She said it’s time for law enforcement officers to have a greater level of accountability.
“It’s time to reform our Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights,” Raimondo said.
Manni, a longtime R.I. State Police veteran, said the use body cameras would be beneficial.
“For the residents and the public it would provide accountability and transparency, but also for the troopers it would protect them from being falsely accused of any type of complaint that could easily be cleared up by viewing the video,” Manni said.
Manni said the R.I. State Police has had a community outreach team for 15 years, but they will be forming another community group aimed at expanding diversity and working with community leaders. There are currently 211 white, 24 Black, and 15 Hispanic troopers, according to Manni.
“We created a unit called community diversity and equity and it’s going to be staffed by all people of color from the ranks of the state police, male and female troopers and reach out to all communities, all 39 communities, to meet the needs that they have,” he said.
Last year, the Rhode Island State Police graduated the most diverse academy in its 95-year history, something Manni says they’re extremely proud of.
“There were people of all walks of life and coming from all corners of the state that truly represent the people we serve, and once again this is something we aren’t going to rest our laurels on, we are going to continue to diversify the State Police from the ground up,” Manni said.
As part of Raimondo’s vision, Manni will also look into funding and grants to help the R.I. State Police purchase body cameras for all of its troopers.
He will also establish a group that will determine what polices and procedures would work best for the use of body cameras. Right now, he said they’re studying the Connecticut State Police, which recently equipped all of their troopers with body cameras.