PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Providence police officers have started training to use body cameras while on patrol.
The department said officers will train throughout the month of October, and that all their cameras will be fully operational within about three months. All officers serving within the patrol bureau will wear the square, Axon-brand cameras on their uniforms, in the center of their chest. They will be required to activate the cameras when responding to most calls for service or official activities when they are on duty or on a detail, according to the department.
“Body-worn cameras are an innovative tool that will enhance the community policing done in Providence,” Democratic Mayor Jorge Elorza said.
Col. Hugh Clements said the cameras will provide increased accountability and help to maintain transparency.
The NAACP and others have called for the department to use body cameras amid police shootings around the country, and hailed the step as a positive one.
“It’s not just for the community to have more faith in the officers. It’s also for the officers who may feel they need to be vindicated, in cases where they might be falsely accused,” Jim Vincent, of the Providence NAACP, told WJAR-TV.
But the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has raised privacy concerns as well as concerns that the cameras will have to be manually activated.
“Body cameras can be a great tool for police transparency and accountability, but ultimately the devil is in the details,” ACLU Executive Director Steven Brown told WLNE-TV.
The department said in a news release that officers will be generally prohibited from using their camera when they respond to incidents “where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists.”
Providence is not the first department in the state to employ body cameras. Police in Newport began using them earlier this year.