Chief: Plan to put cameras on police not financially viable

RICHMOND, R.I. (WPRI) — In the wake of the deadly police shooting in Missouri, President Barack Obama introduced a proposal to outfit more police officers with body cameras. However, the head of the Rhode Island Police Chief’s Association says the cameras would prove to be more expensive than what the president’s plan calls for.

After protests about the grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson stretched from Ferguson to Los Angeles to Rhode Island, Pres. Obama announced a new plan for community policing initiatives. The proposal would include $75 million to equip 50,000 police officers with video cameras attached to their bodies.

Richmond Police Chief Elwood Johnson, president of the Rhode Island Police Chief’s Association, has some cost concerns about the plan, pointing out that it only covers half the actual cost and doesn’t include maintenance and video storage.

“It’s great for evidence gathering, it’s great for personnel complaints, when you want to review what actually transpired,” he said. “The problem is the cost of the device can be exorbitant.”

Chief Johnson made it clear that the cameras would be very helpful in establishing trust, but said he’d need a lot more information before he’d approve any sort of implementation of the proposal.

“It’s not going to be the end-all-be-all magic pill that’s going to solve distrust issues, but it may go to help that,” he said.

Another issue Johnson raised was public records requests. He said it would be very time consuming to view and release all of the video after it’s been requested by someone, and that his department alone would have to hire more people solely to perform that job.

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