PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee said Monday that Rhode Island State Police troopers will receive $3,000 bonuses similar to those going to other groups of state employees, but the payments won’t be tied to wearing body cameras as initially announced.

The McKee administration’s newly negotiated agreement with the Rhode Island Troopers Association, the union that represents members of the state police, calls for each of its 194 members to receive the $3,000 payment, according to Department of Administration spokesperson Derek Gomes. He said no further details were available Monday.

Administration officials initially said the $3,000 payments would be tied to the rollout of body cameras for state police troopers, a fact first reported over the weekend by The Providence Journal.

But speaking to reporters on Monday, McKee said he hadn’t been aware the money for the troopers would be tied to body cameras, and said he has instructed that they should not be linked together.

“There’s no need to make up a story why we’re compensating the state police in a way that they are entitled to and deserve,” McKee said in remarks shared by his office, adding, “Let’s separate the stipend. Let’s be honest with the people in the state of Rhode Island.”

However, McKee emphasized that agreeing to the $3,000 payments for the troopers “wasn’t improperly done,” and said the troopers’ contract had expired under the Raimondo administration, making a new agreement “long overdue.”

McKee noted that he took a similar stance last year when the first round of $3,000 bonuses — agreed to as part of a union contract with AFSCME Council 94 — were initially touted as an incentive for state workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

After criticism from lawmakers and others, McKee called it a “misstep” to link Council 94’s payments to vaccination status, saying the money was instead a retention tool to keep state employees on the payroll.

McKee has declined to offer the $3,000 payments to non-union employees in the executive branch, but independent arms of state government — including the judiciary, the legislature and the general treasurer’s office — have all opted to give the money to their full workforces.

A judiciary spokesperson previously told 12 News that court officials’ policy is to mirror the compensation policies negotiated with unionized workers.

Helena Foulkes, one of four Democrats challenging McKee in this year’s Democratic primary, criticized him on Twitter over the shift on the trooper bonuses. “Once again, Governor McKee seems to be totally unaware of what his own administration is doing,” she wrote. “Rhode Island deserves better leadership than this.”

McKee indicated Monday his level of involvement in union negotiations has varied, citing last year’s deal with the Providence Teachers Union as one where he was “totally involved.” (The teachers received $3,000 payments as part of that deal.) He also suggested changes should be made to the process the executive branch uses to negotiate contracts.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook