New law will create statewide electronic public safety dispatch and records system


STATE HOUSE – Rhode Island will get a statewide electronic public safety dispatch and records system under a new law that was sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert E. Craven.

The legislation (2021-S 0059A, 2021-H 5596A), which was approved by the General Assembly July 1 and recently signed by the governor, establishes a statewide public safety computer-aided dispatch and records management system to replace the disparate individual systems used by police, fire and EMS agencies around the state.

A new statewide system will help first responders share and access information far more easily, while also eliminating redundancies, offering an economy of scale and providing up-to-date technology to all.

“This new law will ensure that law enforcement agencies would all be on the same record-keeping system as we move to a more up-to-date technology,” said President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). “Without this policy enacted, law enforcement agencies are forced to choose their own vendors, resulting in a hodge-podge of different incompatible systems, which would certainly not be in the best interest of public safety.”

The legislation was supported by the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association, and nearly every state law enforcement agency has indicated it would participate. The creation of system will be grant-funded at no cost to the state, then the system will be supported through participation fees from the local departments, which currently pay those fees to vendors that provide services to each of them separately.

“Having a statewide records system will much more effectively use information that already exists to ensure that first responders know everything they can in a particular situation. Just as none of us stays in only the town where we live, neither should the information that first responders rely on to protect us. In 2021, this a development that is long overdue for Rhode Island. This collaborative approach will increase public safety for all of us,” said Chairman Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown).

The system will be managed by the Department of Public Safety with input from an advisory board, which will be made up of various law enforcement officers and transportation officials.

The bill also makes the Department of Public Safety responsible for safeguarding all information within the system as well as complying with federal and state privacy rules. The agency would be directed to develop and implement a privacy policy to ensure those safeguards.



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