WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Flashing lights and K-9 body armor were among the technology showcased at this year’s Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association Trade Show.
The trade show comes roughly a week after the Rhode Island Department of Transportation released troubling new numbers regarding deadly crashes.
More than 60 people died in crashes in Rhode Island this year alone, compared to the same time last year when only 39 people died.
Warwick Police Colonel Brad Connor said road safety remains one of their biggest priorities.
“Every chief that attended today can give traffic safety issues in their community,” he told Target 12. “Whether it’s speeding, whether it’s pedestrian safety or drunk driving.”
Connor said of the nearly 50 vendors in attendance this year, the trade show is highlighting businesses geared toward traffic safety.
That includes All Traffic Solutions, which is already in use across the state.
While the technology doesn’t issue citations like traffic cameras, sales development manager Olivia Williams said it flags when there may be a problem in a community through data collection.
“It’s a breakdown of each day by each hour,” she explained. “It will show you the average number of violators and that helps officers know when they should be out on the road enforcing.”
The use of new technology is not always a welcomed solution in policing.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Rhode Island raised privacy concerns when Providence started installing Flock’s license plate reading cameras last year.
The cameras snap and store photos of license plates and cars, which police said has been useful in making arrests.
Flock was not among the vendors in Warwick, but Connor said when it comes to balancing privacy and safety, technology is a key way for departments to expand what they can do.
“Safety is paramount, particularly in school zones,” Connor said. “Departments across the state are using technology enforcement in the school zones and I know a lot of agencies are looking at it as well.”