‘Col. Perez stood out’: Providence police appoints first minority chief

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Providence Mayor Brett Smiley has named Oscar Perez as the city’s 38th police chief Friday– the first minority leader of the department.

Perez will be replacing Col. Hugh Clements who left the post after 38 years for a job in Washington D.C.

Perez will be the first Latino to lead the state’s largest municipal police department.

“I am extremely proud and humbled to be selected as the next police chief of this city,” said Perez after he was introduced.

The new chief has been with the Providence Police Department for 29 years.

He started as a patrol officer and prior to his new post, was serving as deputy chief.

Col. Clements called Perez a “great choice” to lead the department in a statement:

“I think Oscar Perez is an outstanding selection. I said from the beginning that the next leader is right here in the command staff. He has great credibility internally and externally in the community. He has the right temperament for the complexities of the position and the right empathy for the community and the men and women who serve.”

“For the first time in the history of the city, our 38th police chief has come from the neighborhoods and among the ranks, qualified and ready to serve,” Providence Council Pro Tempore Juan Pichardo.

“Best of all, he speaks and understands my constituent’s language on the south side and the growing Latino population across Providence,” he added.

Perez was one of three finalists for the top cop in the city, with the other two being Maj. David Lapatin and Maj. Kevin Lanni.

“We had three finalists who would have made excellent chief of police,” said Smiley. “This man will effectively be able to lead our department and take on that other responsibility that only the chief has to– to be the face and the voice for the Providence Police Department.”

All three finalists took part in a community forum earlier this week.

President of the Providence Fraternal Order of Police Michael Imondi hopes Perez can continue the admirable work of Colonel Clements.

“With Chief Perez, he came up from the ranks,” said Imondi. “He knows what the job is all about. He knows what it takes to do the job. He knows the ins and outs.”

With Perez rising to the top spot, Smiley said Chief Perez will select the next deputy chief. A decision is expected next week.

Categories: News, Rhode Island