$375K Dept. Of Justice Grant To Pay For Providence Police Body Cameras

Sep 27, 2016

The Providence Police hope to outfit all officers on patrol with body cameras within the next several months. But a new federal grant will only cover half of the cost.

The Providence Police department has received $375,000 in matching grants from the U.S. Department of Justice. But city must come up with an equal amount of money to outfit all 250 of its patrol officers with body cameras.

In addition to the cost of the cameras, the department must also pay for digital storage of the video.

Providence Police Captain Dean Isabella says the department has been testing body cameras and a policy on how to use them in a pilot involving 10 officers.

“We also consulted with the public, the ACLU, the NAACP, the public defender’s office, once we had a pilot policy crafted to show them what we had to see if they had any suggestions, in regards to improving that policy,” said Isabella.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island has criticized the policy, which does not require the cameras to be on at all times, said Police Chief Hugh Clements.

“However it’s identified in the policy, where it’s mandated that you have to have the camera on,” said Clements. “So if you’re responding to a call, if you’re stopping a car, if you’re involved in a situation that’s identified in the policy, you have to activate your camera.”

The policy also does not make the footage immediately to the public.  Chief Clements said he may be open to adjustments in the policy.

In Providence, several community groups have been pushing for passage an ordinance known as the Community Safety Act, which would require police to develop a comprehensive policy around wearing and using body cameras.