Woonsocket cop headed to D.C. in an effort to mend police-community relationships

(WPRI/ Madeleine Wright)

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — In the midst of the growing unrest between police officers and citizens, a Woonsocket police officer is heading to the White House to try and improve his city’s police department.

Officer Edward Cunanan said he has had people curse at him, spit at him, even break his bones. Despite all the conflicts he has had in his 25 years on the police force, he said he’s never used deadly force.

“I’m not perfect, I’ve made mistakes, certainly, but most officers are just like me,” he said. “They want to go out and serve their community the right way.”

Cunanan said he admits there are bad cops out there. But in a Facebook post that has been shared almost 400 times, he said not all officers should be painted with the same brush.

“The narrative that’s kind of growing in this country [is] that police officers are bad people. They’re all racist, they’re all bad people, they’re all doing harm,” he said.

Cunanan said he believes that narrative led to the shooting deaths of five officers in Dallas on Thursday night. The gunman reportedly professed a hatred of white officers.

“With all the recent controversies with police shootings…there’s been a lot of discussion about are we doing the right things? Are our policies correct,” Cunanan said.

Cunanan said he wants community leaders to encourage people to cooperate with police officers. He said nothing good ever comes from resisting arrest.

Don Lessard from Woonsocket said he’s been racially profiled by officers six or seven times.

“I think there are some – a lot of good ones – and some who are corrupted who shouldn’t be on the force,” he told Eyewitness News.

Cunanan said he is planning to bring back recommendations on how to improve the police department from his trip to Washington, D.C. He’s traveling to the White House on Thursday to find out more about President Barack Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force, which is issuing an annual report.

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