Providence Police Union blames uptick in gun violence on Community Safety Act; advocates and police commissioner disagree

Leaders of the Providence Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Lodge #3, the police union, issued a long statement on social media Thursday blaming a recent rise in gun violence and shootings on the passage of the Community Safety Act (CSA) which went into effect on January 1. The CSA was passed as the Providence Community-Police Relations Act (PCPRA). Upon passage, the Providence City Council called the CSA “one of the most progressive policing bills in the United States,” 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 Providence Journal reports that there have been five shootings in the last four days.

The Providence FOP statement is signed by FOP President President Michael Imondi, who was elected back in October, 2017, in part due to his opposition to the CSA. The statement was also signed by the Executive Board of the Providence FOP, Michael Pattie, Roger Aspinall, Paul Romano and Andres Perez.

In the statement, the Providence FOP claims that “anti-police people… pushed and threatened” the Providence City Council to get this ordinance passed.

“Since the inception of the CSA/PCPRA, crime has spiked in the city with 2 murders already, a shooting at the Providence Place Mall and more shootings elsewhere, more petty crime, and more police confrontation,” write the Providence FOP leaders, “Criminals feel empowered and feel as if they are above the law. This situation will only get worse under the newly adopted ordinance, because of the conditions that it has created as explained above … and we have our City Council to thank for it. They put your safety at risk after they caved in to the loud shouting and threats by the radical anti-police movement. Your safety and the safety of those who would visit our city have been at risk.”

Dan McGowan, at Eyewitness News, reports that:

“Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said Thursday he sees absolutely no correlation’ between several recent shootings and the new police reform ordinance that took effect Jan. 1.

Pare was responding to a post on the Providence police union’s Facebook page that claimed violence “seems to have escalated” since the Providence Community-Police Relations Act (PCPRA) became law at the beginning of the year.

‘There’s just no evidence or basis for it,’ Pare told Eyewitness News.

The office of Mayor Jorge Elorza declined to comment.

The statement was issued as a Facebook post and as a series of Tweets on Twitter.

A response was issued on Facebook by End Police Brutality PVD.

End Police Brutality PVD maintains that the Providence FOP is “opportunistically trying to use the recent string of shootings to advance their goals of counter-reform by claiming that the passage of the Community Safety Act… has ‘enabled criminal activity.’ They’re effectively attempting to blame the shootings on the fact that the Community Safety Act has gone into effect…

“They claim that the CSA has emboldened local residents to become more resistant to police, which has supposedly interfered with their ability to collect information – information which would typically be used in investigations that would presumably have prevented the recent string of shootings. In other words, they’re claiming that they cannot do their job because people are more emboldened to defend themselves from bogus police investigations and other abuses of power using the newly passed laws (abuses which they say aren’t even real). Simply put, they’re simultaneously gas-lighting local residents who over the years have attested to the reality of police violence while also portraying themselves as impotent heroes who have had their powers taken away.

“These are wild police conspiracy theories built on fear-mongering and a distortion of facts with the intention to garner support for an eventual repeal of the Community Safety Act. There will be people who are swayed by the narrative being spun by the FOP, but it is important not to fall into their lies. The FOP does not work in the interest of the poor and working-class people who are being impacted by gun violence – they only work in the interest of uniformed police officers whose only job is to exacerbate the problems of gun violence while portraying themselves as heroes in blue. This narrative must be rejected. The solutions to gun violence in impoverished neighborhoods is NOT more policing and LESS civil rights (however weak they may be). If people want less violence and more gun control, start by disarming the police who are the biggest gang of organized thugs out on the street with legal legitimacy.

Disarming the police would free up much needed funds which could be directed towards schools, recreation, and healthcare, in addition to neighborhood-based conflict resolution centers run cooperatively by local residents.


Here’s the full text of the Providence FOP Lodge 3 statement:

“The Providence Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #3 (FOP) would like to address the violence throughout the city during the first month of the year, which seems to have escalated after the January 1 implementation of a controversial Ordinance enacted by the Providence City Council and Mayor’s office. The PCPRA, or CSA as some still call it, was brought forth by independent anti-police groups with the idea of controlling and restraining police interactions with the public, in specific during a perceived stop or the perceived detaining of an individual for any police purposes.

“The passage of the PCPRA was despite the fact that the Providence Police Department has nearly 150,000 to 200,000 interactions yearly with the public, with only a miniscule 40 to 50 civilian complaints against police officers each year, most of which are found to have no validity. Also, since the implementation of the Body Cameras, those complaints have dropped even more.

“The Providence Police Department is one of the largest departments in New England, and has some of the most professional police officers not only in the region but in the country. Our officers here are held to a higher standard, which is met daily, despite the outrageous false claims and accusations of police misconduct that these radical anti-police groups would lead you to believe exist.

“Providence police officers interact with the public not only in a formal “police capacity” but also informally in the way of fostering better relations with the public. This has been the way of Providence police officers for many years now. Community relations and the transparency of the Providence Police Department has never been better than over the past several years. Officers working with community leaders and neighborhood kids have created a great amount of trust between the community and police, with many officers taking a personal interest in the area that they patrol.

“However, despite all of the positive work and progress that has been made by the Providence Police Department as described above, the passing of the CSA/PCPRA has started to seriously deteriorate this trust between the community and police, planting the misguided seed of distrust in police, and in some cases causing the ignorance of unfounded blind hatred of police officers. These unfortunate but predictable adverse effects have made police work in Providence a more cumbersome, dangerous, and frustrating task. The unwillingness being shown now by the public refusing to talk with and interact with the police officers has created a more uneasy feeling within the neighborhoods, and a lack of cooperation with police, thus creating more opportunity for criminal activity to take place.

“The CSA/PCPRA takes away the ability of officers to cultivate information by relying on investigatory skills and community relations and contacts, hampering the ability to speak with individuals who in turn may help solve a crime or control/ stop criminal activity in the area.

“Since the passage of the CSA/PCPRA, police officers around the City have been ridiculed, badgered, and disrespected by members of the public while simply trying to perform their jobs as police officers; and police officers have had their legal authority improperly questioned even though the officers are acting within the scope of their duty. These members of the public have apparently been made to feel empowered by the CSA/PCPRA and radical anti-police groups to be able to disrespect police officers and ultimately disrespect the law … which ultimately leads to an increase in criminal activity. Several schools in Providence are even training their students to be and act anti–police, which leads to the question: What type of relationship between the public and police do you think the future will hold when students are being taught that police are not your friend or a person you can go to for help, and that it is OK to disrespect the police.

“If this was the intent of those anti-police groups who pushed this ordinance through, well then we say you have been successful and job well done … you’ve begun to create a lawless society. This behavior towards Providence police officers will only have an adverse effect on the relationship between the public and police, a relationship that was becoming stronger over the past several years but which is now deteriorating rapidly … which will only make it much harder for police officers to do their job and control crime in the City of Providence.

“Since the inception of the CSA/PCPRA, crime has spiked in the city with 2 murders already, a shooting at the Providence Place Mall and more shootings elsewhere, more petty crime, and more police confrontation. Criminals feel empowered and feel as if they are above the law. This situation will only get worse under the newly adopted ordinance, because of the conditions that it has created as explained above … and we have our City Council to thank for it. They put your safety at risk after they caved in to the loud shouting and threats by the radical anti-police movement. Your safety and the safety of those who would visit our city have been at risk.

“The general public needs to know the truth about the CSA/PCPRA and the anti-police people who pushed and threatened the city council to get this ordinance passed. An ordinance which does nothing more than allow people who have criminal intent to walk your streets and neighborhoods unchecked.

​”Therefore, the FOP asks the law-abiding taxpaying citizen in Providence: Do you want a lawless society which breeds an increase in criminal activity which has occurred in Chicago, Baltimore, and St Louis all of which have their own versions of the CSA/PCPRA, or do you want a society that fosters better relations between the public and police to help keep our neighborhoods safe for our families and for those who visit our city?”

 

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About Steve Ahlquist 628 Articles
Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading. atomicsteve@gmail.com

2 Comments

  1. Is there any proof showing that the latest instances of gun violence are related to gang activity? If not, it may be more appropriate to use the phrase ‘gun violence’ rather than ‘gang violence’ because otherwise it would feed into the police narrative of what constitutes gang violence.

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