Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) along with Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia (Ward 6), Majority Whip John J. Igliozzi Esq. (Ward 7), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 8), and Councilman James E. Taylor (Ward 8) are calling on Mayor Elorza to create a city-wide public safety plan to address growing violent crime in our neighborhoods. The comprehensive city-wide safety plan will call for an immediate start to the police academy, a dedicated funding stream for social services in each police district, a police training curriculum that prioritizes cultural and socioemotional competencies, and a re-emphasis on community policing as a proactive strategy to mitigate violence and crime.
“After several weeks of violent crimes including shootings, a kidnapping, and murders, it is clear that the City needs to support a proactive approach to policing,” stated City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan. “Violent crime is up overall across the country, and much of that seems to be due to the global pandemic and the social strife that has plagued our nation. However, we cannot allow the quality of life of our residents to be further impacted by the violent crimes happening in our neighborhoods. We need to properly staff our department and give police the support and tools they need to keep residents safe.”
While Providence has had community policing programs for years, the department’s depleted numbers have caused officers to shift their focus to responding to calls rather than fostering healthy relationships with their communities and performing the proactive investigatory work that stems crime. This has diminished the effectiveness of our community policing programs.
Therefore, the Councilors are calling on the administration to start the new police academy without further delay.
“We appreciate the action from the City Council to allow us to continue to move forward with the 70th Providence Police Academy. The Training Division is in the midst of the recruiting/selection process and we are eager to move forward,” stated Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr., Chief of Police, Providence Police Department.
City Council President Sabina Matos stated, “We have seen how community policing has a direct effect on our neighborhoods. When residents are familiar with and know who the officers patrolling their communities are, it leads to a better sense of security. It provides residents with direct contact if they see something that doesn’t seem right. If we are going to lower the crime rate, we need to support the police by providing social services needed in the City.”
Further, the Councilors are calling for the City to establish a dedicated funding for social service programs for each police district in Providence. They are also calling on the administration to provide more training for officers, with training focused on equity, diversity, and cultural understanding of the City’s diverse population.
“I am concerned that we are going to see a mass exodus of officers retiring in the coming year, and that causes me great concern,” stated Finance Chairman and Majority Whip John Igliozzi. “Reduced ranks will further stress an already overburdened department. We need to ensure that our police force is at capacity and that we have in place a strategic plan for crime prevention.”
The Councilors are also calling on the City to implement and explore best practices in violent crime prevention practices. The Councilor’s will be introducing legislation with further details and desired goals and outcomes at the November 5, 2020, City Council meeting.
Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. stated, “I am in full support of our men and women who go to work every day to serve and protect our community. We need to support them to do the work they are charged to do. I believe that these actions and best practices will help us put a tamper on violent crime in the City and improve the quality of life for our residents.”
For more information, visit us on the web at council.providenceri.gov