Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association Helps to Announce Grant Awards for Statewide Body-Worn Camera Program

CRANSTON — The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association was pleased to join federal, state and local officials Wednesday to announce approximately $16 million in grant awards for 42 Rhode Island law enforcement agencies that will help to equip 1,773 frontline police officers with body-worn cameras through a new statewide program.

RIPCA Executive Director Sid Wordell, along with RIPCA President and Narragansett Police Chief Sean Corrigan, joined with Chiefs from across the state to help make the announcement on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at the Office of Attorney General Peter Neronha in Cranston.

Through the grants announced, departments will now purchase and operate the cameras governed by a recently finalized statewide policy that sets comprehensive standards for use of the cameras.

More about the policy, as well as the full text and complete list of grant awards, can be found on Attorney General Neronha’s website here

In 2020, Rhode Island Police Departments signed onto the Twenty for 2020 campaign, which included 20 promises made by Chiefs across the state to adopt and follow best practices in order to continue to carry out duties fairly and impartially. As part of this initiative, each police department pledged to explore establishing a body-worn camera program, and the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association pledged to explore funding and policy guidance to support these programs.

The Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association has been a strong proponent of the implementation and use of body-worn cameras as a valuable tool for modern policing in the years that followed.

“Body-worn cameras have been shown to provide immense benefit to both police departments and the communities they serve,” Chief Corrigan said Wednesday. “They further law enforcement objectives as an additional tool to collect evidence and information, as well as facilitate professionalism and enhance training opportunities. In addition, the technology can positively impact police-community relations by expediting the truthful resolution of police misconduct complaints, and bolster public trust by improving transparency and accountability.”

The Statewide Body-Worn Camera Program

In June 2021, Governor Dan McKee signed legislation creating the Statewide Body-Worn Camera Program to equip every frontline police officer with body-worn cameras. The Attorney General and Department of Public Safety, in consultation with the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association, were tasked with implementing the program, including promulgating rules and regulations to create statewide policy and eventually administer funding for departments to deploy body-worn cameras to officers.

In December 2021, Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation secured a $1.5 million Department of Justice grant to supplement state funding for the program.

Under the program, state and municipal police departments applied for grant funding to cover the projected cost of a camera and related hardware, software, and storage, and an agency’s significant administrative costs in operating body-worn cameras. 

All funding is to be used to operate body-worn cameras over a 5-year period and awarded funds will only be distributed on a reimbursement basis, safeguarding taxpayer dollars.

“Today is a good day for all Rhode Islanders, as we equip front-line police officers across the state with a helpful tool that will benefit them and the public by assisting critical fact finding and building community trust,” Attorney General Neronha said. “In an increasingly technological age, where judges, juries and the public expect to see the evidence on which they are to make decisions and render judgments, making body-worn cameras broadly available makes perfect sense. With today’s funding announcement, we have removed a substantial monetary barrier for many municipalities that continuously juggle critical priorities. This has been a collective effort, and I am grateful to everyone, including leaders in the General Assembly, the Governor, members of law enforcement, and our Congressional Delegation who have made today possible.”

Also present to help make the announcement were Rhode Island State Police Superintendent/Director of the Department of Public Safety Colonel Darnell Weaver, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Congressman David Cicilline, Senator Jonathon Acosta and Representative José Batista.

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Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association Helps to Announce Grant Awards for Statewide Body-Worn Camera Program