Providence City Council committee considers defunding police following push from the public

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Around 100 protesters gathered at Burnside Park in Providence on Wednesday, calling for the defunding of the Providence Police Department.

Protesters said they want to see the $85 million Providence Police budget reallocated to education and organizations that help minorities.

“We call the police for far more things than we need them for,” said protester Elaina Scorpio.

The rally was organized by the organizations AMOR and DARE.

Some protesters said they want to see a total abolishment of the department.

“We can police our own neighborhoods,” said protester Gregory Waksmulksi.

More than 2,000 residents sent messages to city councilors calling for the divestment of the department. As a result, the city’s Committee on Finance took up the issue at Wednesday night’s meeting over Zoom. Defunding advocacy groups were invited to testify along with members of the Providence Police Department.

“Abolishing this police department will totally bring chaos and lawlessness,” said Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare.

Col. Hugh Clements also testified, calling the department “damn good.”

“We feel that any stripping of a Providence Police Department budget– which is already paper thin– would completely ruin our efforts in the community for community engagement and just take us backwards,” said Clements.

He said the department currently has the lowest level of manpower its seen in 20 years.

He also said there are at least five officers currently under investigation for misconduct.

The chairman of the Committee on Finance said tonight’s meeting is just the start of a larger conversation the city needs to have when it comes to policing.

Categories: News, Politics, Rhode Island