Following quickly in the footsteps of the state, the Tiverton Police Department is now requiring officers to wear body-worn cameras at all times during their shift — mwhether it be during …
Following quickly in the footsteps of the state, the Tiverton Police Department is now requiring officers to wear body-worn cameras at all times during their shift — mwhether it be during interactions with the public, initiation of any investigation or enforcement activity, or when the officer is assisting another in any of the related situations.
"We are pleased to have this technology for our department,” Chief Patrick Jones said. “We look forward to seeing how the program can help us promote progress, transparency, and public trust.”
The implementation, which started back in February, follows the department’s purchase of 31 body-worn cameras in a sale funded with a grant of more than $250,000 by the State of Rhode Island and the U.S. Department of Justice. The grant was part of a $16 million award to 42 law enforcement agencies back in October.
Chief Jones said the benefits of body cameras are abundantly clear. “The usage of cameras improves accountability, transparency and professionalism."
Back in 2020, all Rhode Island police departments signed the "Twenty for 2020" campaign, a list of 20 promises made by police chiefs from across the state to follow best practices in order to carry out duties fairly. In this agreement, every police department pledged to look into a body camera program, supplemented by a pledge from the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association to explore funding and policy for these programs.
In the meantime, legislation signed by Governor Dan McKee as well as an additional $1.5 million federal grant has been dedicated to statewide body-worn camera programs.
Before Tiverton joined the movement, thorough research regarding body camera vendors and policy was conducted in order to ensure a snug fit for the town's unique judicial needs. The department chose Axon for its cameras; they are embedded in officer uniforms and automatically activate under certain circumstances, such as when the officer’s taser or firearm is unholstered.
To mitigate privacy concerns, policy was made for officers to keep such factors in mind when self-activating cameras in areas such as homes or hospitals.
Running the program here is Sergeant Jason Kobelecki — “I am grateful," for his work, the chief said. Tiverton, outnumbers neighboring Little Compton’s body camera number by more than 20, with the latter receiving over $130,000 in grants for the departments 10 body cams.