Landmark Legislation Aims to End Racial Profiling, Bolster Police Accountability and Oversight
The Providence City Council tonight approved first passage of the Community Safety Act (CSA), a comprehensive, community-driven ordinance that aims to end racial profiling and codify into law best practices in police conduct from around the country. The landmark legislation is considered one of the most progressive policing bills in the United States, and includes a broad range of measures that strengthen protections for youth, transgender individuals, people of color, and immigrants. The comprehensive scope of the ordinance makes it the first of its kind in the country.
First introduced in 2014, the CSA in its current form reflects years of research and collaboration between community members, elected officials, and public safety leaders. The landmark legislation brings together and expands upon best practices adopted from numerous cities, including New York City, Seattle, and Austin. The City Council solicited input from a wide range of stakeholders—including the Fraternal Order of Police, members of the STEP-UP Coalition, the Chief of Police, Commissioner of Public Safety, the Mayor’s Office, and the City’s law department—to deliver an ordinance that builds upon the Providence Police Department’s positive track record of community-police relations and public trust.
“At a time when many municipalities are seeing community-police relations deteriorate, we are fortunate to have seen the opposite effect here in Providence,” said City Council President Luis Aponte (Ward 10), who credits the Providence Police Department and its leadership for providing the Council with guidance and insight during the legislative process.
“The evolution of this legislation reflects the many hands and minds that have crafted and shaped it over the years. Through countless hours of intense, inclusive collaboration, the Community Safety Act has brought together activists, elected officials, and police officers with the shared goal of making our city safer for everyone,” said Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11).
“The Providence Community Safety Act is among the most progressive municipal police reform laws in the country,” said Andrea Ritchie, a civil rights attorney who was involved in the passage of New York City’s Community Safety Act in 2013. “Providence is leading the way for municipalities across the country by establishing broad protections against a wide range of profiling and discriminatory policing practices. The Providence Community Safety Act is a comprehensive package of common sense provisions that will help protect the rights of residents during police encounters, essential due process with respect to gang databases, and critical protections for immigrants.”
Prior to becoming law, the ordinance must be passed twice by the full City Council. Councilors may call a special meeting for second passage as early as next week.