Neighbors concerned after Providence rapist’s police detail pulled

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — When convicted child rapist Richard Gardner first moved to the Washington Park neighborhood following a 30-year prison sentence, his arrival came with a round-the-clock police detail to monitor his New York Avenue home. A one-officer, daytime-only detail was finally scrapped on Friday. But then, just one day later, Gardner’s house was vandalized–while he was home.

“There were pieces of concrete mortar that were thrown through a window, breaking the window of his home,” said Maj. David Lapatin of the Providence Police Department.

Police are now trying to figure out who did it.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” said Alyssa Diaz, who lives across the street from Gardner.

Neighbors are hopeful the incident leads to the detail’s return. 

“I definitely feel more safe knowing they’re here,” said Diaz. “It did make us feel a little uneasy knowing they had been taken away.”

But Providence Police say that’s not going to happen–citing the cost and duration of the detail so far.

“We feel we’ve given the neighborhood enough time to prepare themselves for Mr. Gardner living amongst them,” said Lapatin.

Police will still monitor Gardner’s home for now. A patrol car is assigned to drive by 10 or so times during a shift, so there will be an elevated presence, even if it isn’t a constant one.

“Listen, we have a lot of sex offenders in Providence. They’re released. Can we watch them all? No, we can’t,” said Lapatin.

In fact, there are about 300 sex offenders living in Providence, and at least three others within just a few blocks of Gardner’s home, but neighbors say it’s Gardner’s level of notoriety that makes them sleep with one eye open. 

“Also, being right across the street from him, he’s at my front door, so that’s definitely nerve-wracking, and I have kids,” said Diaz.

© WLNE / ABC 6 2019