Statement from Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan Regarding Upcoming Police Academy

Statement from Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan Regarding Upcoming Police Academy

I am pleased to share that the Providence Police Department has announced the 70th annual Police Training Academy will commence on Monday, May 24th. The academy will be located in Ward 5, at the former Providence Water Supply Building at 552 Academy Avenue and will run Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

With fifty new recruits, part of the most diverse class in history, this is a great opportunity for our Police Department to grow and improve based upon the unique needs of our city. These men and women will be trained in classroom and role play scenarios on how to best serve and protect all Providence residents and visitors.

In my role on the City Council, I have been an advocate for the expansion, development, and enhanced training of our police force. With a large swath of our existing police officers approaching retirement eligibility, it is crucial that a new generation of officers is recruited and trained. I extend my appreciation to the Providence Police Department for working to get this year’s academy up and running despite the complications presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I welcome this year’s recruits to our neighborhood and wish them the best of luck as they begin their training. I look forward to seeing the value that they bring to our community as future members of the Providence Police Department.

Statement from Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan Regarding Upcoming Police Academy

Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan Calls to Reconvene City Fireworks Task Force

At the May 6 City Council Meeting, Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) introduced and the Council passed a resolution to relaunch the City’s successful Fireworks Task Force.

“With summer approaching, so too is the threat to public safety presented by the rampant illegal use of fireworks in our neighborhoods. Based on last year’s success, the Council resolution requests public safety and administrative officials, once again, to coordinate enforcement and community education regarding the use of illegal fireworks. City departments must work proactively to mitigate this issue,” stated Ryan.

In the late spring and early summer of 2020, the City of Providence experienced an overwhelming increase in illegal fireworks activity. In 2019, the police department reported less than 20 calls related to fireworks complaints, but in June of 2020 that number skyrocketed nearly 500. In response, Councilwoman Ryan convened a group of City stakeholders to discuss this quality of life nuisance, and identified three main areas that needed to be addressed: public education on what is and isn’t legal; licensing enforcement for businesses that are illegally selling fireworks; and a coordinated effort by public safety officials to focus on hot spots or problematic areas. This effort lead to the creation of the City’s Fireworks Task Force which resulted in multiple arrests and the confiscation of illegal fireworks.

In Rhode Island, ground-based fireworks and sparklers are legal, but aerial fireworks and anything that explodes are not allowed without a permit.

“Last year, as a result of the diligent efforts of the Fireworks Task Force, the City was able to make a significant reduction in the use of illegal fireworks that had been disrupting and endangering our neighborhoods,” Ryan said. “I look forward to building on this progress as we head into another summer, and I thank our local law enforcement and fire officials for the work they do every day to maintain the quality of life and public safety of our community.”

Ryan is encouraging individuals to report the use of illegal fireworks in Providence or file a complaint, call the police department’s non-emergency line (401) 272-3121. Complaints can also be filed by calling 311 or visiting the PVD 311 Website and selecting the ‘Quality of Life’ complaint option.

This resolution was co-sponsored by Council President Pro Tempore Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Councilman Michael Correia (Ward 6), Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilwoman Kat Kerwin (Ward 12) and Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1).

Providence City Council Supports Rhode Island General Assembly’s Special Commission to Study Sex Worker Safety

Providence City Council Supports Rhode Island General Assembly’s Special Commission to Study Sex Worker Safety

At last Thursday’s City Council meeting, the Council passed a resolution endorsing and urging the passage by the General Assembly of House Resolution 2021 H-5250, creating a special legislative commission to study ensuring racial equity and optimizing health and safety laws affecting marginalized individuals. This commission would specifically work to examine sex workers in the State of Rhode Island and their access to vital health, safety and legal resources.

The Council’s resolution was introduced by Councilwoman Kat Kerwin (Ward 12) and co-sponsored by Council President Pro Tempore Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13) and Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1).

“I am proud to support COYOTE RI and all the advocates who are working tirelessly to pass good policy that would provide our State with information on the impacts of the sex industry. The reality is, legalized or not, sex work continues to exist in Rhode Island and without regulation and research, people who engage in sex work, particularly women, are left without a safe network to report assaults or other issues that may arise from the job. I hope the State will consider passing this bill with the full support of the Providence City Council,” stated Councilwoman Kat Kerwin (Ward 12).

In a Rhode Island sex work study conducted by COYOTE RI and Brown University, 77 percent of respondents reported they had never tried reporting a crime while working in the sex industry and, of this group, 27 percent did not report because they did not think the police would do anything, while 32 percent did not report because they did not want to draw attention to themselves. For workers that did file a report, 4 percent were arrested while trying to report a crime, and 26 percent reported being threatened by the police when trying to file a report.

“We need to re-examine how laws around commercial sex are harming the people they are supposed to protect. Criminalization creates the perfect playground for bad actors and police to prey on sex workers with impunity,” added Bella Robinson of COYOTE RI.

An analysis of 134 studies spanning 30 years found that sex workers in decriminalized contexts were less likely to experience physical or sexual violence from clients and were less likely to contract HIV or sexually transmitted infections. The analysis additionally found that repressive policing of sex workers, their clients, and/or sex work venues disrupted sex workers’ work environments, support networks, safety and risk reduction strategies, and access to health services and justice.

On January 29, 2021, Rhode Island State Representatives Anastasia Williams, Edith Ajello, Camille Vella-Wilkinson, Karen Alzate, Brianna Henries, and David Morales introduced HB 5250 to create a special legislative commission to study ensuring racial equity and optimizing health and safety laws affecting marginalized individuals.

Copies of the Council’s resolution in support of HB 5250 will be sent to the Providence delegation in the Rhode Island House and Senate and the Honorable Speaker of the House.

Councilman John Goncalves Proposes Ordinance Requiring Notice of Demolition to Council Representative

Councilman John Goncalves Proposes Ordinance Requiring Notice of Demolition to Council Representative

At last night’s City Council meeting, Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1) proposed a change to the Providence Code of Ordinances which would require a building official to provide written notice to their City Council representative upon the issuance of a demolition permit. This ordinance was co-sponsored by Council President John J. Igliozzi Esq. (Ward 7), Council President Pro Tempore Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Councilman James Taylor (Ward 8), Councilwoman Kat Kerwin (Ward 12), Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13), and Councilor David Salvatore (Ward 14).

“Recently, a beloved building in the Fox Point neighborhood was demolished, to the surprise of myself and the local community. Not only was this demolition project an inconvenience to residents of the area, it also was at the location of the former Duck & Bunny; a landmark of the Fox Point neighborhood,” stated Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1).

Under current City law, building officials are not required to notify the City Council or the local neighborhood when a demolition permit has been issued. The proposal would require that written notice be given to the Council representative. This will allow for proper communication to be made between various City Departments, and ensure that residents and businesses surrounding the demolition site are made aware of the upcoming operations in their neighborhood.

“As a City, we work best when communication is open and reliable. As a City Councilman, I know I can better serve my constituents when I am aware of all developments in our Ward. Residents of any neighborhood deserve to know about major plans for construction or demolition which could affect their property, quality of life, safety or the integrity of our neighborhood. Moving forward, I hope this ordinance will encourage an open line of communication between building officials, City operations and residents,” added Councilman Goncalves.

The ordinance has been referred to the Committee on Ordinances for further review.

Councilman John Goncalves Urges Passage of Rescue Rhode Island Act at the State House

Councilman John Goncalves Urges Passage of Rescue Rhode Island Act at the State House

At tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1) proposed a resolution supporting Rhode Island House Bills 2021 H-5674, H-6074, H-5595, and Senate Bills 2021 S-0219, S-0468, and S-0540, known collectively as the Rescue Rhode Island Act. This resolution was co-sponsored by Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilman Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), Councilman Michael Correia (Ward 6), Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13), Councilman John J. Igliozzi Esq., Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), and Councilman James Taylor (Ward 8).

“We urge our elected representatives in the Rhode Island General Assembly and Senate to support and pass the Rescue Rhode Island Act. This initiative takes bold action to address a myriad of issues facing our State, from housing insecurity to sustainable food systems and climate justice. ” stated Councilman John Goncalves.

The Rescue, Rhode Island Act focuses on three main areas of concern. The first concern is the expansion of green and affordable housing construction. The Rescue, Rhode Island Act would allocate funding towards the construction of high quality, energy-efficient, affordable housing through the Housing Jobs Construction Program, which would also provide job training programs in energy-efficient construction and solar panel installation.

The second focus is the support of locally sourced food production. The legislation would assist in developing a reliable food production system in the State of Rhode Island.

“The Rescue Rhode Island Act takes progressive steps to move Rhode Island into a new era of green jobs, sustainable, affordable living, and a return to embracing local food systems. We have the technology, and we have the ability to make our State’s practices more environmentally friendly, so it is time for us to take the necessary steps in government to allow these exciting changes to happen,” added Councilman Goncalves.

Finally, the Rescue Rhode Island Act’s third focus is the creation of Green Justice Zones in Washington Park and the South Side of Providence. These Green Justice Zones would receive funding for projects such as the replacement of lead pipes. Within Green Justice Zones, polluting facilities would be more strictly regulated, and new polluting facilities would not be allowed to move into the area. Washington Park and the South Side of Providence are regions of the City that have been significantly impacted by air, water, and soil pollution. The outcomes of this pollution include disproportionate rates of childhood asthma and increased risks of environmental hazards.

“Changes must be made to protect the residents and the Washington Park and South Side neighborhoods’ ecosystem. The ongoing pollution only deepens the inequities in health and economic outcomes in the City of Providence. It is time that we put Rhode Islanders first and make meaningful change to improve the future of our State, but also to improve the everyday lives of those residing in areas that are prone to excessive, harmful pollution,” added Councilman Pedro Espinal.

The resolution has been sent to the Special Committee on State and Legislative Affairs.

Providence City Council Calls on Mayor Elorza to Enforce Existing ATV Laws and Names Members to the Council’s Special Commission on ATVs & Recreational Vehicles

Providence City Council Calls on Mayor Elorza to Enforce Existing ATV Laws and Names Members to the Council’s Special Commission on ATVs & Recreational Vehicles

At tonight’s City Council Meeting, Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) proposed a resolution urging Mayor Jorge Elorza to decisively enforce the multiple laws that the Providence City Council has enacted to mitigate the dangers and nuisance of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in the City of Providence. This resolution was passed and co-sponsored by Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1), Councilman Michael Correia (Ward 6), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilman John J. Igliozzi Esq. (Ward 7), Councilor David Salvatore (Ward 14), Councilman James Taylor (Ward 8), Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), and Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9).

“As a freshman Councilor, I got to work drafting and enacting legislation that would keep dangerous ATVs off our City streets. In doing so, my Council colleagues and I created a clear, legal framework that prohibited the operation of illegal ATVs and gave the Providence Police Department the power to seize and destroy any ATVs operating illegally. We legislatively created an ATV task force and ATV phone line. Yet years later, our City is still facing the major threats to traffic and pedestrian safety that ATVs create. The City Council is calling on the Mayor to uphold City ATV ordinances, support our Police and to take action necessary to address the public nuisance that illegal ATVs are causing in our City” stated Deputy Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan.

Additionally, Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) appointed Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr., Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), and Councilman John Goncalves to the Special Commission on ATVs and Recreational Vehicles. The committee will be tasked with investigating best practices regarding the enforcement of existing ATV laws in the City of Providence.

“I want to thank Councilwoman Carmen Castillo for advocating for a Special Commission to look at best practices and how we can encourage the Mayor to enforce the laws that this body has already passed. I have full confidence that this Commission will work diligently with residents, stakeholders, and the administration to find ways to mitigate this ongoing issue further,” shared Council President Sabina Matos.

The Council has passed multiple ordinances to stop the illegal use of ATVs in the City. On April 2, 2015 Councilman Michael Correia’s ordinance banning snowmobiles and ATVs from operating on City streets was passed. The City Council passed a second ordinance from Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan on May 4, 2017, which gave the Providence Police Department the power to confiscate and destroy ATVs that were caught being operated illegally. Both of these laws are still in place today.

“ATVs have been a major safety and quality of life issue in our City for years. The Council has continually worked with the Providence Police Department and community members to stop the massive gangs of ATVs speeding through our neighborhoods. We have done the work to end this problem, and we will continue working until it is not a problem anymore. But we need the same commitment from the Mayor,” added Councilwoman Carmen Castillo.

Despite the decisive legislative action taken by the Council, ATVs have continued to be a significant threat to traffic and pedestrian safety in all neighborhoods of the City. This is why Council President Sabina Matos has assembled this Special Commission on ATVs and Recreational Vehicles and why Councilors are calling on the Mayor to enforce the laws already in place, as we enter another spring and summer season.

“It seems like every time I look at the news, especially during the warmer months, there is another story about a pedestrian who was injured by an ATV, or a car that was damaged, or a big traffic jam due to a huge group of ATVs recklessly driving around our City. As elected officials, it is our job to put a stop to this. As a member of the Special Committee on ATVs and Recreational Vehicles, I am hopeful that myself and my colleagues can find new solutions to help our police department better enforce our City’s ATV laws and bring peace and safety to our streets,” stated Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr.

The Special Commission on ATVs and Recreational Vehicles will be tasked with studying the best practices regarding the enforcement of existing ordinances in a way that is fair, practical, and above all protects the safety of pedestrians, motorists, and families in neighborhoods across our City.

“The illegal use of ATVs has been a major issue in my neighborhood. I feel my neighbors’ frustration as these loud and intrusive vehicles speed through our streets, endangering children, cyclists, drivers, and really anyone nearby. I look forward to working with my Council colleagues to work towards the stricter enforcement of the laws we have put in place. I hope we can find an off-road place that they can ride. I am optimistic that Mayor Elorza will do his part in enforcing these laws so that our City does not have to continue facing the dangers created by ATVs daily,” added Councilman John Goncalves.

ATV Recreation Enforcement: Resolution.
Special Commission on ATVs and Recreational Vehicles: Appointments and Resolution.

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