Providence police body cameras up and running, but so far no requests to view video

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence Police Department has deployed more than 100 body cameras on the force’s officers over the past few weeks, with more slated to go online in the coming weeks.

Providence police told Target 12 that 107 cameras are operational right now, and groups of officers are being trained every week on the chest-mounted cameras that record audio and video.

Officers began training early last month and eventually 250 cameras will be rolling, with the training expected to take about two more months.

Department policy requires officers to record vehicle pursuits, arrests, building searches and adversarial interactions with citizens, as well as any incidents involving reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

There are also situations when camera activation will not be required, including cases involving victims of sex crimes and child abuse, and when witnesses request anonymity.

The policy also allows officers to turn the devices off during incidents that could reveal undercover officers’ identities and situations not related to official police activity.

The public will be able to review video upon request by going to the city’s public safety complex. Clips that are an element in a citizen complaint or evidence in an active criminal case would be saved by the department, but other video would be deleted after 90 days.

Police said there have yet to be any requests to view the video recorded by officers so far.

Michael Imondi, president of Providence’s Fraternal Order of Police, said the training has gone as expected, but added that he did not want to comment on the policy and the cameras’ impact since they just went online within the past few weeks.

The ACLU was concerned that since the cameras are activated by the officers, there could be use-of-force cases that are deliberately not recorded.

The cameras were approved by the City Council last December, with a $1.37 million no-bid contract with Taser International. The taxpayer outlay was offset by a $375,000 federal grant. Taser agreed to supply 250 cameras and unlimited data storage for a period of five years.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau