Providence Police Department Has New Chief

           Hugh Clements was named Providence Police Department's 38th chief at a ceremony this morning. He steps in at a difficult time for the city. Providence just had it's first homicide of the new year.

            Clements says improving morale and keeping an eye on the budget are some of his plans, but the chief says his number one priority is cutting down on the city's violence. Providence had 12 homicides last year and it's first of this year last night.

            Hugh Cements Jr. is a 26-year veteran of the department. He's now in the driver's seat, and he's not expecting an easy ride.

           “It's a huge challenge but I look at it as a great opportunity,” said Clements.

            Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare recommended Clements to Mayor Angel Taveras. 27 people applied for the position, some from within the department, and others from out of state.  But Pare says Clements was the best candidate and he shares his concern about the city's violence.

            “We want to prevent this kind of violence, we want to eliminate it, but if we can prevent it that's what we want to do,” said Pare.

             Chief Clements says weapons are too easy for young people to get their hands on.

             “There's too many guns out there and the guns are so accessible to youth in the community, once you introduce a firearm into a dispute in the inner city it's a bad recipe,” said Clements.

               He says he will tackle the problem by working closely with community groups like The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence. The agency's executive director, Teny Gross, is confident the chief will stand by his word.  

              “Violence is a presence, it is lower than it used to be, last year we had 12 homicides we want to get to zero,” said Gross.

                The chief says his long history with the department, working his way up through the ranks, has gained him the respect of his colleagues, which he says will help improve morale.

                Chief Clements said, “I've done just about every single job in this police department just about and the things that I'll be asking the men and women of this job to do I've done so they know it comes from the heart I've done it before and I'll do it going forward.”

                Clements says they had to cut 6 million dollars from their budget, forcing him to find ways to streamline their services.

                 Clements replaces Dean Esserman who resigned last June after controversy surrounding an underage drinking party at his home. Clements has been serving as acting police chief since July. He will be officially sworn in as the departments chief at a ceremony in a couple of weeks.