Today Mayor Jorge O. Elorza signed the Providence Community-Police Relations Act into law and released the following statement:
The Providence Community-Police Relations Act is a product of the hard work of the Administration, the City Council, Public Safety officials, and most importantly, community members and advocates. This legislation was drafted by the community, for the community and through its evolution, has highlighted a change in the national dialogue. After years of diligent and thoughtful compromise, I am glad to be able to sign this legislation into law.
This ordinance is the most comprehensive community-police relations law in the country and is a national model for community policing. With so much tension in the air in cities throughout the country, Providence is being proactive in collecting data and in adopting policies promoting transparency, accountability and strong community relations. I am signing this ordinance into law because it will help make us a better police department and it is an important component of our progressive approach to policing.
In Providence, we are fortunate to be served by a department that has been, and always will be, an innovator in urban policing. Just this year, the Providence Police Department created a Community Relations Bureau, under the leadership of Major Oscar Perez. By building meaningful relationships with the community, our police department is transforming what it means to be a police officer. In addition, we anticipate soon becoming the first major city in New England to deploy body worn cameras department-wide and we will soon graduate the most diverse police academy (by far) in the city’s history.
I want to acknowledge that there has never been a more difficult time to be a police officer as this is a time of great volatility and change for the profession. But in spite of all of the challenges, our police department has stepped up and has done exceptional work. Their commitment to progressive policing led to 2016 having the lowest number of homicides in 30 years, a 30% decline in the number of shootings, and for the first time in anyone’s memory, there was not a single gang-related homicide in the entire city. I want to thank all members of the Providence Police Department, both civilian and sworn personnel, for their continued dedication, service, and commitment to the city.
While I am proud to sign this legislation today and to join the residents, councilmembers and community members who have been a part of the process, I look forward to our work ahead. While this is an important step, I know that high-quality, community policing is not achieved through legislation alone but through continued commitment of every member of the team. I know that our work is never done and we will to continue to engage stakeholders, the community, educators and our public safety officials, to improve our community police relations in every neighborhood in Providence.