State Rep. wants body cameras to be mandatory for police

By: Samantha Lavien
Twitter: @samanthalavien

Former Providence Police Officer and current State Representative Joseph Almeida is in the process of drafting a bill that would make it mandatory for Rhode Island police officers to wear body cameras.

He says a big motivation for the legislation is the mounting tensions between law enforcement and the community following the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson last year.

“I really want both the police and the community to become as one and to really understand one another,” said Almeida.

Rep. Almeida says the technology would serve an important role.

“I feel as though it could be used to protect an officer from unwanted complaint or it could be used for a wanted complaint by the community,” said Almeida.

The president of the Providence NAACP agrees with the idea.

“I’m excited about that fact that we are talking about something that is concrete in terms of police and community relations. This is an action step that somebody could point towards and say here’s something that we are both trying to do,” said Providence NAACP President, James Vincent.

But, some including State Rep. Raymond Hull, who is currently a Sgt. with the Providence Police have expressed concern about the cameras, especially when it comes to privacy.

“I’m against the body cameras as they stand now. There’s got to be some reassurances in the bill that there will be some protection for people that we encounter,” said Hull.

Almeida says privacy is one of the things he is researching as he writes the bill.

He says one of the biggest challenges ahead will be figuring out how to fund the cameras.

(C) WLNE 2015