Providence City Council members demand Elorza create safety plan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Providence City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan says she’s concerned the city is seeing an increase in violent crime, notably a recent 100% jump in aggravated assaults with a firearm.

“It’s unacceptable,” she said. “Something’s wrong. Something’s desperately wrong.”

Ryan believes some of that is related to the pandemic and social unrest, but says the mayor needs to take action.

“We need to stop bickering,” she said. “We need to stop the divisive politics. We need to come together and recognize we have a problem in our neighborhoods with violent crime. We have the underpinnings of a good system, but it’s ready to break.”

Ryan, a Democrat, says the solution is a citywide safety plan that emphasizes police hiring and training, along with social services.

“Investing in the police academy, that would be investing in staffing,” she said. “We want a diverse police academy, we want a social service component in each police district to complement the community policing in that area – to get to know the neighbors, to get to know the issues.”

Friday Mayor Elorza pointed out this push for a greater police presence comes as some on the council call to defund the police.

Ryan says it’s a balance.

“We need a police department,” she responded. “For me, it’s efficiency in funding.”

The mayor is also indicating a new police academy can’t move forward until the council passes a budget.

Ryan says that’s not accurate.

“The money is there,” she said. “The council wants the mayor to spend it. And the council wants the mayor to move forward without further delay.”

Ryan adds it’s too early to estimate how much this crime plan would cost, but says it will be discussed with the finance committee.

The council is expected to take up the issue at their meeting November 5.

The Fraternal Order of Police, the union for Providence Police officers, is also weighing in on the idea of a safety plan.

“The FOP has been for years advocating the need for more police officers in our Department and for taking a more proactive approach to our policing efforts,” said Providence FOP Lodge #3 President Michael Immondi. “We do hope that this seemingly renewed call to increase our ranks and to address the crime in our City will in fact be realized and implemented.”

 

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