RI police recruits face potential for tense job situation

EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — Rising tensions between law enforcement and the public nationwide are creating new challenges for the training of police in Rhode Island. Recruits are preparing for a career in a field that has seen violent and, at times, deadly outrage and backlash against law enforcement — just over the last few months.

This week is the second week in a seven-week training program run by the Rhode Island State Police at Camp Fogarty in East Greenwich with 46 men and women preparing to serve 22 municipalities. It’s also the largest municipal police academy in a decade in Rhode Island.

“You have to be dedicated and focused to get through this academy,” said Capt. Joseph Philbin, the state police’s director of training.

The captain gets calls from training directors nationwide, he says, asking what the trick is to keeping enrollment numbers up in Rhode Island, when there is an underlying social tension between the public and law enforcement across the country.

AP Photo/David Goldman
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Dedication is a common theme. Philbin said all the recruits currently in the program were already enrolled before outrage boiled to the surface in Ferguson, Mo., and in New York City. The changing world is simply becoming part of the curriculum, he said.

“Are the troopers or officers or candidates getting enough training in policing, community policing and, unfortunately, use of force?” said Philbin. “Of course you have to look at these factors, and make sure you get enough training. And we do. But we’ll always add and put in whatever we can.”

The recruits in the program right now are dedicated, and are here for the right reasons, Philbin said.

On the use of force, Philbin said there’s only a small percentage of time when police use force. He said he’s comfortable with what’s being taught in the academy.

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