PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Rhode Island believes police body-worn cameras should not be allowed on school grounds.
In a letter sent to the state’s superintendents Monday, the ACLU expressed concerns about the possibility of school resource officers being required to wear body-worn cameras.
“Though our organizations strongly support oversight, transparency and accountability of policing systems, we write to urge that your school district choose not to enter into an agreement with your local law enforcement agency to provide [body-worn cameras] to any [school resource officers] in your community’s schools,” the letter reads.
Specifically, the ACLU is worried that body-worn cameras “will facilitate increased surveillance of students and improperly escalate minor, internal disciplinary issues into matters of criminal justice.”
The ACLU, alongside several local student and youth organizations, urged the superintendents to “decline the opportunity to outfit any [school resource officers] … with this technology.”
“Students shouldn’t have to worry about how surveillance and police presence will impact their ability to have an enriching and uplifting educational experience,” ACLU police associate Hannah Stern said. “We strongly urge all districts to consider the harmful ramifications that could flow from use of such surveillance technology.”
The letter comes one month after the state announced plans to equip 1,773 officers across 42 police departments with body-worn cameras. (The Smithfield Police Department is the only law enforcement agency that opted to not equip its officers with body-worn cameras.)
The statewide policy for the initiative states that departments must enter into an agreement with the district before equipping its school resource officers with body-worn cameras.