ACLU, student advocate group pen letter opposing body cameras on school resource officers

PROVIDENCE – A coalition of nine groups focused on students and civil rights, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island Inc., have released a letter opposing the use of body cameras by school resource officers.

At the national level, the ACLU has said that police body cameras have “the potential to serve as a much-needed police oversight tool at a time of a growing recognition that the United States has a real problem with police violence.” But these cameras must be deployed mindfully, the organization says.

“Without good policies, they risk becoming just another police surveillance device – and one with very real potential to invade privacy,” the ACLU states on its website.

The letter’s signees say that they advocate for “oversight, transparency and accountability of policing systems,” but that the body cameras can put student privacy at risk if deployed in schools.

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“The closed environment in which school-based law enforcement interactions are contained, and the likelihood of these interactions occurring around numerous other students, puts students at risk of being recorded whenever an SRO has contact with their peers,” the letter states.

Signees included the ACLU of Rhode Island, the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education, Parents Leading for Educational Equity, Providence Youth Student Movement, Providence Student Union, the Rhode Island Center for Justice, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, Youth in Action, and Young Voices.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Voghel@PBN.com.