Providence police union blasts Taveras on cop staffing

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The police union in Rhode Island’s capital city said Thursday it is protesting the Taveras administration “for their lack of foresight with the Providence Police Department manpower shortages.”

In a letter written by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3 president Taft Manzotti and four other officials, the union said the force “has been diminished to numbers that have not been seen since the late 1970s.” The letter goes on to criticize Taveras for not purchasing any new vehicles during his tenure until April and handicapping the force with an outdated computer system.

“The mayor has done nothing for the police department as a whole yet he takes credit for our exemplary work when it suits him,” the letter states. The union contends the city has fewer than 400 officers currently on the job, down from 494 in 2010.

A police academy is expected to enroll an additional 50 officers by the end of the year. Taveras is running in the Democratic primary for governor.

 

“The Providence police are dedicated professionals who succeed under difficult circumstances to keep our city safe,” Taveras said in a statement. “Like me, the union is obviously looking forward to more officers, cars and equipment on the streets. Reinforcements are on the way.”

A recent spell of violence in some neighborhoods, including several high-profile incidents on Federal Hill, prompted the union to say they “refuse to stand by quietly while being attacked” for “political gain.”

Violent crime in Providence dropped 45% between 1991 and 2012, according to Uniform Crime Reports filed with the FBI. While the city’s FBI report for 2013 won’t be available until later this year, city officials have reported that violent crime remained nearly level last year. A weekly crime statistics report published by the Providence Police Department shows that violent crime in 2014 was down 24% as of July 20.

In addition, the union criticized state Sen. Paul Jabout, state Rep. John Lombardi and Councilman Nick Narducci for suggesting that the State Police should be brought in to assist with crime prevention on Federal Hill. The union called the request a “slap in the face.”

“We would like it to be known that our men and women are more than capable of handling any situation in the city as we have for many years,” the letter states.

Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan

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