WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Warwick city councilors decided Monday night to hold off on approving an ordinance to implement license plate readers in the city.
The topic went before the council Monday, after it was put on hold in May.
After hours of discussion, councilors unanimously moved to send the proposed ordinance, with amendments, to the city’s public safety committee so the policy to oversee the technology could be fine-tuned. Then, it will be brought back before the full council for a vote in September.
“We’ve heard the concerns over the past couple months,” Warwick Police Col. Bradford Connor told 12 News after the meeting ended. “We’re working diligently with our council, with the administration to try and allay some fears and create a working document, an ordinance that can be passed that can provide some oversight so folks can have those concerns quelled.”
The cameras, owned by the company Flock Safety, have been causing a lot of controversy in Rhode Island since the first ones went up in Cranston last August but police departments say they are part of a plan aimed at fighting crime.
In Cranston, where there are 29 cameras, Police Chief Col. Michael Winquist told Target 12 the license plate readers have resulted in 65 arrests, 38 stolen cars recovered and seven missing people located since they were deployed.
Those who oppose the cameras say they are invasive and a privacy violation.
“I’m all for reducing crime. But you know what I’m not for? Eliminating my civil liberties,” said one Warwick resident at Monday’s meeting, who argued for the council to narrow its guidelines for using the technology.
Providence will soon begin a one-year trial run with the cameras and is set to put up 25 across the city.
Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré has declined to release the list of locations where the cameras will be located, citing the possibility of vandalism, but said the cameras will be placed in “hot spots” for crime across the city.
Flock says the cameras are currently in use in Cranston, Glocester, Lincoln, Smithfield, Woonsocket and Tiverton, and will soon be installed in Bristol.