Senate committee approves RI police body camera bill

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Senate committee has recommended passage for a bill that would equip all Rhode Island police officers with body cameras. 

The motion unanimously passed in the R.I. Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday night.

The program provides multi-year funding to all Rhode Island police departments to purchase and operate the cameras and requires the development of statewide policies to ensure their effective use. It would equip around 1,700 officers across every police department and the Rhode Island State Police with body-worn cameras over the next 12 to 18 months.

Testimony was taken before a roll call vote, with some members of the public saying they believed the bill be held for further study, adding they felt not enough research that implementing body-worn cameras on police would make a difference.

R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office began developing this plan last fall by researching best practices, engaging with body camera vendors, and working closely with the R.I. Police Chiefs’ Association (RIPCA) and R.I. State Police to explore the opportunity with departments around the state.

Narragansett Police Chief Sean Corrigan, who also serves as vice president of the RIPCA, says despite the ongoing costs of implementing such a program, he supports the bill because of its many potential benefits. 

“These benefits include, but are not limited to promoting accountability, helping police secure evidence, and building community trust,” Corrigan told the committee.

According to the state, the program aims to maximize available federal funding and efficiently use state dollars, including a commitment of up to $1 million from Neronha’s office.

The state added that around $3 million per year in state funding is necessary to ensure that all departments can purchase and deploy the cameras for a five-year, state-supported implementation period which will give cities and towns what they need to budget for future maintenance.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

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