Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,526,000)
The Rhode Island Department of Public Safety is seeking grant funds for a state-led partnership to promote body-worn camera adoption for more than a quarter of Rhode Island’s police agencies. Eleven municipal police agencies: Central Falls, Cranston, Jamestown, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Pawtucket, South Kingstown, Warwick, West Warwick, and Woonsocket and the Rhode Island State Police are eager to implement broad-scale body-worn camera programs. All the participating police agencies have researched body-worn cameras and understand that the cameras are an unbiased witness to law enforcement actions, promoting accountability and building community trust while providing prosecutors with critical evidence. Moreover, body-worn cameras are effective: reducing the use of force by police and complaints against police officers—underscoring the importance of Rhode Island’s plan to purchase additional body-worn cameras and deploy them in a coordinated approach using statewide body-worn camera policies.
The Department of Public Safety’s partnership uses a state-led approach to efficiently scale-up the number of Rhode Island police agencies with broad-based body-worn camera programs. Under this project, the Department of Public Safety and the Attorney General’s Office will develop and promulgate statewide policies for body-worn cameras using authorities granted to their offices in recently enacted legislation. The statewide policy development process will use formal, public notice-and-comment rulemaking—including at least one public hearing—to seek input from a wide range of stakeholders. As policies are being developed and finalized, the Department of Public Safety will assist the participating police agencies in navigating the procurement process and provide annual grants of state funds to the agencies that partially fund the agencies’ expected costs of body-worn camera deployment. These state grants will be made over a five-year supported implementation period and will incentivize the agencies to adopt the statewide policies. Finally, the Department of Public Safety, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association will provide body-worn camera training opportunities to the participating police agencies and their officers and incorporate the cameras into the state’s Municipal Police Training Academy.
Funding in the amount of $1,526,000 is requested for the 12 police agencies participating in the partnership to purchase and deploy an additional 763 body-worn cameras, develop and adopt statewide policies, and maximize the value of body-worn cameras to strengthen evidence, promote accountability, and build community trust.
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