Council Approves Police Body Cameras

by | Oct 26, 2023

The cameras should be in full use by the department by spring

The Town Council Monday approved a $229,000 contract for 26 body-worn cameras for the East Greenwich Police Department. The money for the cameras comes from a state grant awarded to EGPD in 2021. 

According to EGPD Chief Steven Brown, the cameras will be worn by patrol officers only and, once training is completed, will be worn daily.

“Any time they’re doing police work, the cameras are going to record. Any time they have public interaction, the cameras will be recording,” Brown said. 

That doesn’t mean they will be recording from the start of a shift to the end of a shift. Rather, there are times when the officer can turn on the camera but there are also times when the camera will start recording on its on. For instance, Brown said, “if the officer turns on lights and sirens, the camera goes on automatically.”

Senior police officials will be in charge of reviewing recordings of arrests and other higher profile police interactions. The recordings could be used to verify reports and could be used as evidence in criminal cases. 

Just like police reports, the recordings will be made available to the public if requested, with redactions as necessary for privacy. Brown said most of the recordings would be kept for some short period of time (perhaps a month) with those recordings of arrests, etc., kept for substantially longer periods of time.

Brown said student resource officers will not be wearing the body cameras but if police are called to a school for an incident, those patrol officers would be wearing cameras.

He noted that most of the policy was hammered out by the attorney general’s office. 

A half-dozen agencies are using body worn cameras now – including RI State Police, Providence, Warwick, and West Greenwich. The objective is for all departments to have them,  Brown said. He added he had not heard about any problems from other chiefs at this point. EGPD cameras should be fully in use by the spring.

They’re good for both the citizens and the police, Brown said, prompting better behavior on both sides.

Photo credit: Axon

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