Mayoral candidates aim to increase Providence police force

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After a violent weekend in Providence, the three candidates for mayor expressed interest in bolstering the city’s police department, but differed on how they plan to get it done.

A total of four people were stabbed or shot in Providence in less than 48 hours over the weekend, according to police. Two men were stabbed outside The Vault Lounge on Atwells Avenue, another was shot in a drive-by on Pleasant Street, and a fight between two rival gangs that spilled out of Fete Lounge left another man with a gunshot wound.

Police believe the two shootings, along with three other incidents of shots being fired on Sunday, were gang-related.

On Monday, all three mayoral candidates said they want to bring the number of police officers in the city to 490 from 390. Democrat Jorge Elorza said he plans to apply for federal grants to make that happen.

“Years ago, we used to receive about $8-and-a-half million in federal funds for the police department. Now, that number has gone down by a quarter of a million dollars,” he said. “We have to be much more aggressive pursuing these grants, and I don’t care if I have to fill out the grants myself. I don’t care if I have to deliver them myself. We’re going to apply much more aggressively for this federal money so we can put more cops on the beat.”

A recent poll conducted exclusively by Eyewitness News and the Providence Journal revealed that 90% of city voters are concerned about crime.

Republican candidate Daniel Harrop said he wants to fund new officers through the city budget.

“The Republicans really have a plan to bring the city through receivership. That will help reduce our bills, reduce our overhead, and get rid of unjust tax giveaways,” he explained.

Providence’s two public safety unions have both endorsed twice-former mayor and now independent candidate Buddy Cianci in his bid to return to City Hall. He said he also wants to add 100 officers to the force as soon as possible, and plans to elaborate on his crime reduction plan later this week.

The City Council is expected to take up a resolution on Thursday to address the level of late-night violence in the city.

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