Police body-worn cameras: RI attorney general seeks public input on statewide program

Local News

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you have questions or concerns regarding how the statewide body-worn camera program will work, then Attorney General Peter Neronha wants to hear from you.

Neronha introduced the program back in June, which will equip approximately 1,700 officers across every police department and the R.I. State Police with body-worn cameras.

The public had until Sept. 24 to submit written comments, but Neronha said those who missed that opportunity are still welcome to partake in a virtual hearing on the topic Tuesday evening.

The public hearing was scheduled in accordance with legislation approved by the R.I. General Assembly earlier this year, which provides multi-year funding to each of the state’s police departments to purchase and operate the cameras.

“I wanted to make sure, before we sat down for the drafting process, that we understood the kinds of things that are on people’s minds,” Nerohna said. “There may have been things we missed in the legislative process.”

When it comes to the specifics, Neronha said several matters still need to be discussed.

“When do cameras need to be activated, when do they get turned off, how do we account for privacy concerns, how do we store the information,” Nerohna explained.

Neronha tells 12 News he hopes to implement the program soon.

“My hope is to have those policies done before the end of the year,” he said. “Remember, Providence already has them and R.I. State Police have them in the pipeline already, and Newport already has them, but we would like to get them on more officers.”

Neronha said while all use-of-force footage will be made public, they still need to determine how long after the incident the department has to release it.

“Of course we recognize there is tremendous public interest when there is an interaction between police and the public, when there is an allegation of the use-of-force,” Nerohna said. “The body cam will tell a story, it may not tell all of the story, but it is powerful evidence as to what really happened when there are two competing narratives.”

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Zoom. Anyone interested in watching the virtual meeting can do so by clicking here.

Those who wants to partake in public comment is asked to sign up online beforehand.

Public comments will be heard in the order of when individuals sign up. Comments will be limited to five minutes each.

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