The Providence City Council will consider candidates to serve on the Providence External Review Authority (PERA) Board.
PERA was established in 2002 by Providence City Ordinance No. 614 (Chapter 2002-39) to provide for a system of Civilian Oversight over the Providence Police Department. The purpose of PERA is to investigate allegations of misconduct on the part of officers of the Providence Police Department, to make findings of fact and to make recommendations of potential disciplinary action to the Chief of Police.
“I was incredibly impressed with the caliber of applicants who responded to the City Council’s open call for PERA Board candidates,” said City Council President David A. Salvatore. “Internally, there has been an extensive, thoughtful and deliberate process in crafting the process by which the Board was determined. It was foremost in our minds that this must be an open, inclusive and transparent process, and the candidates must be representative of the communities we serve. I am very confident that the slate of candidates selected embodies those qualities.”
The PERA Board nominees for consideration are:
- Jorge C. Armesto, Ph.D., Ed.M., a clinical and forensic psychologist and founder of the Latino Psychological Institute, Inc., as well as a Providence resident;
- Phanida Phivilay Bessette, former president of the Socio-Economic Development Center for Southeast Asians Board of Directors, former Providence School Board member and current program manager for the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health & Human Services;
- Kenneth Cohen, a retired Providence Police Department Lieutenant and former FOP president with more than 30 years of experience in law enforcement;
- Susan DeRita, a Providence native and member of the original PERA Board, where she served as Chair of the Policy Committee; member of the Providence Police Advisory Committee; and Elmhurst Neighborhood Crime Watch coordinator;
- Alison Eichler, president of Sophia Academy’s Board of Directors, vice-chair of the Board of the Providence After School Alliance, member of the Rhode Island Personnel Appeal Board, co-principal in Eichler Realty Company, and a Providence native;
- Nick Figueroa, Executive Director of College Visions, graduate of Providence Public Schools, as well as Rhode Island College, Roger Williams University, and the University of Rhode Island;
- Machiste Rankin, a retired Rhode Island Department of Corrections officer and Providence resident;
- Deborah Wray, a longtime Hartford Park Tenants Association member and former board member; a member of Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) for over 30 years; and a community activist.
“As an original member of the PERA Board, it is very gratifying to see this process through,” said Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris. “I am appreciative of all of the hard work that went into ensuring the PERA Board is set up for success. This Board is extremely important to the community, and I am excited for it to begin its meaningful work.”
The slate of nominees will be voted on before the City Council at its next meeting on Thursday, March 1, 2018.