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Community groups say CSA implementation is being delayed, PVD Mayor and City Council say it’s on track



Both Mayor Jorge Elorza and the office of the Providence City Council deny that the implementation of the Community Safety Act (CSA) is being delayed, but the STEP UP Coalition disagrees.

Upon passage, the Providence City Council called the CSA “one of the most progressive policing bills in the United States,” and one that “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.”

The law goes into effect January 1, but the STEP UP Coalition says that necessary preparation, including the re-establishment of PERA, will delay proper implementation.

“January 1st 2018 is approaching fast, signaling the long-awaited implementation for the Community Safety Act (CSA),” said the STEP UP Coalition in a statement. “However, to be able to implement the CSA, the Providence External Review Authority (PERA) must first be re-established. PERA, as written in the CSA, will be the governing body to review and investigate police misconduct and violations of the CSA, to issue reports about how the police department is doing, and to review proposed labor contracts with the police.”

The STEP UP Coalition is made up of Providence Youth Student Movement (PrYSM), Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Olneyville Neighborhood Association (ONA). The coalition shepherded the the CSA from concept to final passage.

“PERA is one of the biggest ways the CSA is holding the police accountable, which has made it a target of City Hall,” continued the Coalition in their statement. “Currently, PERA needs to get up and running fast, to be fully functional by the time the CSA goes into effect on January 1. But the Elorza administration, through its Law Department, is taking the questionable legal position that the PERA ordinance has to be amended in order to do its work. We know that if City Council goes back in to amend PERA, it will just be an opportunity to weaken it and to delay the January 1 start-up of the CSA.”

Both Mayor Jorge Elorza’s office and the office of the Providence City Council are denying that there is any delay in implementing the CSA. Providence City Council Chief of Staff Cyd McKenna says that “reports of a delay are false. The council has selected a slate of board members that will be introduced at the first council meeting in January. The PCPRA is a law that takes effect in January 1 and is not dependent on PERA to take effect.” (Note: the CSA was re-titled the Providence Community-Police Relations Act (PCPRA) by the Providence City Council before final passage, but the community still refers to the bill as the CSA.)

Victor Morente, from Mayor Elorza’s office said, “the Mayor has submitted to the city council his appointment and has urged them to impanel the board as soon as possible.”

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The STEP-Up Coalition is asking people to call their city councilors and Mayor Elorza.

“We ask that you call your City Councilor and Mayor Jorge Elorza and demand that PERA be up and running IMMEDIATELY so that the CSA can be implemented on January 1st, 2018 without delay,” said the Coalition in a statement. “Any weakening of PERA or delays in the implementation of the CSA is undermining the will of the people. We have very little time due to the holidays to re-activate PERA and implement the CSA as promised so we ask that you please spread the word and start calling your councilors and the mayor NOW and DEMAND that they stop trying to dismantle PERA and start implementing the CSA.”

The last scheduled meeting of the Providence City Council this year is December 21.

Here’s the contact information for the providence City Council.

Ward 1
Seth Yurdin | 401-484-7207 | | @SethYurdin

Ward 2
Samuel D Zurier | 401-861-6313 |

Ward 3
Nirva LaFortune |

Ward 4
Nicholas J Narducci, Jr | 401-497-1430 |

Ward 5
Jo-Ann Ryan | 401-595-8604, 401-464-2046 | | @JoannRyanPVD5

Ward 6
Michael J Correia | 401-603-6723 |

Ward 7
John J Igliozzi | 401-351-9802 |

Ward 8
Wilbur W Jennings, Jr. | 401-461-3617 |

Ward 9
Carmen Castillo | 401-226-4678 |

Ward 10
Luis A Aponte | 401-781-6861 |

Ward 11
Mary Kay Harris | 401-481-8268 |

Ward 12
Terrence M Hassett | 401-454-0644 |

Ward 13
Bryan Principe | 401-486-2488 |

Ward 14
David A Salvatore | | @DavidASalvatore

Ward 15
Sabina Matos | 401-383-3814 | | @Sabina_Matos

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.