25 license plate readers to be up and running within a month in Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Providence Police Commissioner of Public Safety Steven Paré said Wednesday that 25 license plate readers will be up and running in the city within 30 days.

A general order for the license plate readers, made by the company “Flock,” went into effect Wednesday morning.

Chief Hugh Clements said that the cameras will have a “hot list” of sources. When Flock identifies a car suspected in a crime, police will be notified.

“Your chances of being caught and being held accountable are going to be raised because of this,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza.

Police will still need probable cause to stop a car that is on a hot list, Clements added.

Elorza noted that the family of 15-year-old Ger’Vonte Tilson, who was shot and killed Saturday, asked him to put cameras up in the city.

City Council President John Igliozzi said that he supports the implementation of Flock, saying when tourists visit the city, he wants everyone to feel safe.

Protestors outside of Wednesday’s announcement at the Public Safety Complex said they hoped to overturn Flock’s deployment, and told ABC 6 News the city of Providence rushed into this decision.

“There’s only been one sort of minor public input period and that was on the policy itself. There’s nothing on the cameras in general. There’s been no legislative insight at all,” said protestor Anne Bonnesteel.

Following the city’s announcement, the ACLU of Rhode Island issued a response to the new program.

“In short, the way this technology is being deployed by Providence undercuts transparency and accountability. Such a grossly unregulated and deeply intrusive police surveillance system should be of concern to all who value privacy,” said a representative with the ACLU of Rhode Island.

Last week, it was announced that the city was entering into a pilot program with Flock for the license plate readers.

The goal of the program is to combat crime. Several other cities in the state, including neighboring Cranston, have been using the Flock system.

However, several city councilors last week pushed back against the program, arguing the process hasn’t been fully transparent and more public input is needed.

Categories: News, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island