FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 10, 2019
Contact: Lindsay M. Lague
Public Information Officer
Incident regarding Providence Police Officer James Lewis
Providence, RI– On April 2, 2019 Providence Police were notified by officials at the East Providence Police Department regarding an image that originated from the Providence Police Department’s Mobile Digital Communicator (MDC) data terminal and was sent to a suspect involved in an investigation into the theft of $80,000 worth of rims and tires that occurred in their city. Upon notification, members of the Providence Police Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) began an investigation and learned that the image that was shared was a photo of Providence Police Officer’s MDC screen including registration information researched using the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.
Through their investigation, Providence Police learned that Officer James Lewis, a five year veteran of the force, sent the above-mentioned photo to a female acquaintance who he had frequent interactions with through his work within the community. The female was recently involved in a motor vehicle crash and the driver of the opposing vehicle stated to her that he did not want to notify the police, and instead offered to settle the matter privately. The woman agreed and they exchanged registration information. Following the crash, she asked Officer Lewis to provide her with information related to the other vehicle involved, in an effort to get her own car repaired and assure the other vehicle was registered and insured before doing so. The woman then forwarded the registration information, the screenshot from Lewis, to an individual in East Providence who was going to repair her car. This person was also determined to be the same suspect involved in the East Providence Police investigation into the rims and tires theft.
Officer Lewis was interviewed by OPR and was put on administrative leave pending further investigation. The female involved, who was out of the country until yesterday, was interviewed by OPR last evening and explained that she was, in fact, involved in a crash and that she requested the information from Lewis to provide to the individual who was going to repair her vehicle.
Officer Lewis was not in any way involved in a criminal conspiracy, the EPPD investigation into stolen rims and tires or providing information to known criminals.
“The information that Officer Lewis provided is a common police practice and within the legitimacy of the work of a law enforcement officer,” said Commissioner Paré. “At this point, we do not believe he was assisting a criminal enterprise whatsoever and he used the database to assist an individual who he serves as a mentor to within the community.”