Finance committee approves body cameras for Providence Police

PROVIDENCE, R.I (WPRI) — A city council panel has approved a contract with TASER International to outfit the Providence Police Department with 250 body cameras.

The Finance Committee voted 3-0 in favor of the body-worn camera contract on Wednesday night, sending the proposal to the full council for a vote in April.

The cameras and unlimited video storage will cost approximately $292,000 in the first year of the program, and gives Providence the option to extend for 4 additional years or cancel the contract at any time, according to finance chairman John Igliozzi. Providence won a $375,000 federal grant to implement body cameras last year. The total cost of the 5-year contract is $1.37 million. Igliozzi said there would be no penalty for cancelling the contract if the city decides the cameras aren’t working out.

Providence Police implemented an 10-officer pilot program with body cameras last year, which the police chief touted as a success.

The ACLU of Rhode Island has opposed the body-worn cameras, previously expressing concerns about the Police Department’s policy allowing officers to manually turn the cameras on before an encounter with a member of the public. But Col. Hugh Clements has said the cameras will improve community policing and could reduce crime.

Providence offered the contract to TASER over VIEVU, another company that makes body-worn cameras. Police said the officers that participated in the pilot program preferred the TASER cameras.

Chairman Igliozzi said TASER also offered to throw in 500 extra cartridges for the stun guns the company provides the Providence Police.

If approved by the full council, the program is expected to roll out at the police department in a few months.