Task force hears results of survey of RI police chiefs

The survey found that the LEOBOR has been used 'infrequently' in the last 10 years.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – The special task force organized to review the Rhode Island law enforcement officers bills of rights met again Wednesday afternoon to hear the results of a survey from police chiefs about what is and isn’t working in terms of how they discipline officers.

Prior to this survey, Sid Wordell of the Rhode Island Police Chief’s Association said there was no data on how the law enforcement officers bill of rights had been working.

“The sentiment of the overwhelming majority of chiefs I’ve spoken to was that what was going on with discipline with officers, that they invoked what they felt was appropriate, was working,” said Wordell at the meeting.

Senator Harold Metts, the leader of the task force, says this information will help them make better recommendations.

According to the survey of 23 police chiefs in the state, chiefs suspended officers a total of 262 times over the last five years; 108 of those times the LEOBOR could have been invoked since the suspension was for more than 2 days.

But the survey indicates that the bill of rights has only been invoked 22 times in the last decade, which Wordell noted was “infrequent.”

“The current law in Rhode island, you can only discipline someone for two days,” said Metts. “So this is a big issue that we have to work on.”

Some of the main recommendations the chiefs made in the survey was a longer suspension of approximately 10 days before the officer can invoke the bill of rights, a larger and more permanent panel to hear any possible LEOBOR cases, and the need for transparency with the public.

“I must remind everyone that the intent of discipline is that the chief has determined an officer is worthy of keeping as a productive member of their agency,” said Wordell. “Otherwise simply they would have moved to terminate that officer.”

Wordell also noted there is also no statewide standard for how officers are disciplined for misconduct.

“So that Woonsocket wouldn’t use something different from Westerly for the same infraction,” said Metts.

The Attorney General and RI ACLU will be testifying at upcoming meetings.

Categories: News, Rhode Island