ACLU calls for investigation into Cranston Police Dept.

Days after the release of the blistering State Police report on the Cranston Police Department the ACLU is calling for another investigation into the department.

Rhode Island ACLU Executive Director Stephen Brown sent a letter to the city council President asking for them to look into the department further.

"At the very least questions ought to be raised. That's what we're suggesting that it shouldn't be sufficient to just ask questions about what's in the police report. It's important to go beyond that in order to determine whether there are other legitimate issues that need further examination,” said Brown

In the letter Brown points to one specific incident he found incredibly troubling.

"The state police report found at least one documented instance where the police actually engaged in surveillance of a private citizen at the computer technician,” said Brown.

City Council President John Lanni says he and the council will consider the request.

"We're taking it one step at a time. And, the more we look into this the more concerned we really get,” said Lanni.

Cranston Police Chief Col. Michael Winquist responded to the request with the following written statement.

Colonel Michael J. Winquist, Chief of Police of the Cranston Police Department, issued the following statement in response to a letter from ACLU of Rhode Island President Stephen Brown calling for a new investigation into the Cranston Police Department:

The State Police assessment of the Cranston Police Department provides an all encompassing and impartial account of the issues that had plagued the organization for several years.  As part of the assessment process, all sworn and civilian members were afforded the opportunity to speak confidentially with Lieutenant Colonel Barry and Captain Moynihan about the problems they had experienced.  These interviews, as well as their observations while overseeing the daily operations of the department for ten months, provided Lieutenant Colonel Barry and Captain Moynihan with the unique insight necessary to provide a comprehensive and unadulterated assessment of the Cranston Police Department. There is no information to suggest that the final report provided by the State Police was a synopsis and that a new investigation into the Cranston Police Department is warranted. Furthermore, at the present time I am unaware of any incidents outside the ones detailed in the State Police report that are indicative of abuse of authority by any current member of the Cranston Police Department.

It is disappointing that the Mr. Steven Brown of the ACLU in his letter to the Cranston City Council and release to the media earlier today would generally refer to the Patino homicide case in a veiled attempt to make a link to the information referenced in the State Police report.  What Mr. Brown fails to elaborate on in his letter is that contrary to Judge Judith Savage's unfair scrutiny of the Cranston Police Department, Judge Savage's decision to suppress evidence in the case was resoundingly overturned by the Rhode Island Supreme Court.  Furthermore, the United States Supreme Court chose not hear an appeal on this matter.  Mr. Patino was ultimately convicted of 2nd degree murder after a jury trial and consequently is serving a life sentence.

The persons responsible for creating an internal of culture of negativity and distrust are no longer working in the Cranston Police Department.  I do agree with one statement Mr. Brown makes in his letter; "the vast majority of police officers should not be judged by the bad actions of a few." As a police department we have and will continue to move forward.

The men and women of the Cranston Police Department share my goal of providing the very best police services to the citizens of Cranston while carrying out their duties with impartiality, transparency, accountability, dignity and respect. I am proud to serve along side of them each and every day, where in unison we will bring the Cranston Police Department to new heights.

Tuesday, a highly-critical state police report of the Cranston Police Department was released, saying the department was "torn by power struggles, unwarranted and arbitrary disciplinary actions and highly inappropriate actions by ranking officers and city officials."

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