After a nearly nine-hour continuous public hearing where Providence Residents called on the City Council to defund and abolish the police, and to provide more social service programs to help city residents in crisis, Providence City Council Majority Whip and Chairman of the Council’s Committee on Finance John J. Igliozzi Esq. (Ward 7) today announced his intention to replicate a program that was launched in Eugene, Oregon, in 1989 by White Bird Clinic, called Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS). This proposed pilot program would address the social service needs that are better treated by trained counselors, medics, and crisis managers than the police.
“As Chairman of the Committee on Finance I will be bringing this issue forward and inviting the Providence Department of Public Safety and community partners back before the Committee at our next meeting to discuss the implementation and funding of a pilot mobile crisis intervention unit program similar to CAHOOTS here in Providence,” Stated Councilman John J. Igliozzi.
The program that Igliozzi intends to launch in Providence would be similar to the approach that CAHOOTS has been using since its inception. The Eugene, Oregon based program deploys teams of two unarmed civilian officers with a medic and trained crisis worker to calls that are nonviolent and do not require an armed response. According to their shared data, they handled 18% of the 133,000 911 calls in the City of Eugene last year and only needed to call for police backup 150 times. The program is operated on a $2-million budget and saved the city nearly $14-million in costs of ambulance transport and emergency room care in the past year.
“Monday night, and into the early hours of Tuesday, we heard from more than two hundred individuals that shared their fear, anguish, and concerns over the way police are called upon to handle crisis situations. Several of the 911 calls that our police department is called to answer are situations in which they are not necessarily trained to address. They are trained to deal with violent crimes, not mental health, and social service calls.”
Councilman Igliozzi continued, “In addition to the work I will be doing in Committee, I will be putting forth a resolution at the next City Council meeting calling on the City to officially implement a pilot program that mirrors the success that has been achieved in Eugene, working in partnership with the Police Department, the City Council, and community advocates. It was clear to me that we are a city in pain and abolishing or defunding the police is an unachievable goal in this current budget season. However, I believe we have an opportunity to divert funds from bloated city programs to create and embed a Social Service Mobile Crisis Unit in the Department of Public Safety that can address and alleviate many – not all – of the concerns that we heard from the residents who testified.”
Ebony Morgan from CAHOOTS Crisis Intervention wrote in a statement, “At our roots, Cahoots is innovative, forward-thinking, and dedicated to serving marginalized populations.” The pilot program that Councilman Igliozzi is proposing would mirror what they have achieved in Eugene, but will have a focus on addressing the issues that might be unique to Providence.
“The spending portion of the budget for the City of Providence is nowhere near complete, and by taking the time now to look at the budget holistically we can create the same kind of pilot program here in our City, and I believe we will be better for it.,” stated Chairman Igliozzi.
Chairman Igliozzi will be bringing together stakeholders to discuss how the City of Providence can create a pilot program and work with institutional partners.
When the original Public Hearing was Zoom-bombed by hateful rhetoric, this Council made a decision to reschedule it.
We rescheduled it because the Public Hearing is the only opportunity for the community to go on record with feedback on the Administration’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
After 9 consecutive hours of public testimony last night, one thing is abundantly clear: the community is not content with what the Administration has submitted for the Police Department’s budget.
The Council will now engage in the task of examining the Police Department budget to evaluate where amendments could be made that are reflective of the community’s priorities.
We will do this in collaboration with community leaders, public safety officials, and the Administration. We are hopeful that a unified approach will result in safer neighborhoods and a more empowered community.
Sabina Matos, President
Providence City Council
Councilwoman – Ward 15
What occurred at Providence College was disgraceful.
Providence College’s campus provides our community with many benefits including green space and access to community programs; and to see their campus desecrated with symbols of hate is harmful and traumatic.
I am glad the vandal has been apprehended, and it is my sincere hope that he is able to access the help that he needs.
My family and I are wishing the security officer who was assaulted a speedy recovery.
David A. Salvatore
Providence City Council
Councilman – Ward 14
In an email sent out by the President of the Providence Police Union in encouragement of this no-confidence vote he implores officers to ‘all stick together.’
I find it disappointing that my public support of a firefighter who felt racially profiled by our police department would warrant this type of response by union leaders.
How is any community member supposed to feel comfortable coming forward with their own stories if the union responds in this manner to a black elected official simply for speaking out against racial profiling?
‘Sticking together’ is precisely one of the root causes of the problem. It’s one of the main reasons people are marching in the streets all over this country. It’s this same fraternal attitude that intimidates good officers from coming forward and reporting incidents of abuse by peers or superiors. ‘Sticking together’ is the type of mantra that would cause an officer not to intervene.
I welcome constructive dialogue with President Imondi and his leadership team and hope that their visceral response to my statement against racial profiling will not stand in the way of collaborative solutions.
Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan joined Providence Public Safety Officials today to announce a collaboration across City Departments to crack down on local prohibited firework use and sales. The City will now require all firework vendors to hold a firework sales permit. Vendors must submit a separate application for each location where fireworks will be sold. Each permit will cost $50 and is valid for one year.
“The health and well-being of our residents is our top priority,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “We encourage residents to please be mindful of their neighbors’ safety and to not use dangerous fireworks or explosives, particularly in our densely-packed neighborhoods.”
Under Rhode Island law, only ground and hand-held sparkling devices (“sparklers”) are legal for use by the general public. Any firecrackers, rockets, mortars, or any other device that launches a projectile and/or makes a “bang” are illegal. Studies have shown the dangers of unpermitted use of these fireworks. U.S. hospitals saw 12,900 firework-related injuries in 2017 alone and yearly about 19,500 fires are started by fireworks.
“Every neighborhood in our City has been plagued by the illegal use of fireworks, and that’s partly because many residents don’t realize that the only legal firework in Rhode Island is sparklers,” stated City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan. “For the past several weeks I have heard from constituents and colleagues about the large scale use of fireworks in our community. The fact is, neighbors don’t want to call the police on each other, but those who would have a total disregard for their neighbors need to understand the impacts their behavior is having on the community. A week ago, I immediately began to investigate what I could do as a City Councilor to protect the quality of life of my neighbors. Working together with Mayor Elorza and his staff we realized that we needed to have a holistic approach to this very serious quality of life issue.”
Majority Leader Ryan continued, “I convened members of my staff, members from the Mayor’s staff, Commissioner Steven Paré and Chief Hugh Clements and their teams to discuss a coordinated outreach effort. What became apparent was the need to educate our residents about the laws surrounding fireworks, and the negative impacts they have on our community members. All too often, we forget that fireworks can have an adverse effect on many of our neighbors – from the elderly, to families with small children, to veterans and others suffering from PTSD, and is harmful to companion animals. Along with the education of our residents, we also must focus our efforts on regulating the illegal sale of fireworks in our city. In addition to this meeting, last night I also introduced a resolution requesting that the City Council, the Chief of Police, the City’s Fire Marshall, and the Director of the Board of Licenses coordinate our efforts to better mitigate the discharge of illegal fireworks with the City. With this plan in place, I believe we can mitigate this issue in a coordinated and calculated manner.”
To file a complaint or report the use of illegal fireworks, residents are encouraged to please contact the Providence Police Department non-emergency line (401) 272-3121 or to use the Online Police Reporting System. Please DO NOT call 9-1-1 to report fireworks.
Over the next few weeks the Providence City Council will work with Mayor Elorza’s Administration , the Providence Police Department, the Providence Fire Department and community members to remind residents to practice safe celebrations and to remember to keep neighbors in mind who may be sensitive to noise, especially at night.
“We are still in the midst of a pandemic and I understand and support that residents would like to find ways to safely celebrate within our neighborhoods,” said Commissioner of Public Safety Steven M. Paré. “I ask residents to please consider their neighbors, some of whom may be first responders working long hours to protect our community, and refrain from engaging in activities that could put anyone unnecessarily in harm’s way.”
At tonight’s City Council meeting, Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) proposed two resolutions around important issues to the community regarding race and the power of words on our community.
The first resolution, co-sponsored by Councilmen Goncalves (Ward 1), Correia (Ward 6), Igliozzi (Ward 7) and Councilwomen Miller (Ward 13) and Ryan (Ward 5), calls on the Rhode Island General Assembly to revisit the 2009 referendum to remove “Providence Plantations” from the State of Rhode Island’s official name.
“A lot has changed since 2009. Our Nation has had to mourn the loss of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and too many more black souls at the hands of police brutality and racially motivated violence,” stated Council President Sabina Matos.
Throughout the Nation, many states have acted by removing Confederate statues and memorials from their public spaces. While the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was not named this way in direct connection to slavery, the use of the word ‘plantation’ is insensitive to our Nation’s dark history of slavery.
“By changing Rhode Island’s official name, we are not forgetting our history; we are simply removing something that no longer represents the values and morals that our State should embody. The history is still there; we will never forget our role in the slavery and racist institutions that have plagued our country for so long. But it is time for us to make a change and move forward, with a name that better represents who we would like to be,” added Council President Matos.
“Without acknowledging and learning from our past, and without addressing those things within our control, we cannot move forward as a City or a Nation towards a more equitable and just future,” continued Council President Matos.
The second resolution urges Governor Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing the Rhode Island Department of Education to include African Heritage History in the K-12 curriculum in the 2021-2022 school years. In July of 2014, the 1696 Historical Commission was signed into law and formed in order to form a comprehensive African Heritage History curriculum for K-12 public school students.
Council President Matos continued, “African and African American heritage is inextricably woven with our State’s history and identity. Black Rhode Islanders have made innumerable contributions to our community despite facing unique suffering and hardship. It would be extremely beneficial for all Rhode Island students to have access to this rich history,”
The 1696 Commission created a curriculum with units covering the many eras of black history in Rhode Island from 1696 to current times. The goal of this curriculum is to not only design and implement an African and African American history curriculum, but also to equip teachers to work with an increasingly diverse student body, fully integrate the teaching of African American history into the curriculum on a year-round basis and to establish this curriculum as a necessary and long term part of the Rhode Island Department of Education’s curriculum.