Providence FOP: We Are Compassionate And Courageous
Editor’s Note: Last week we posted two specific articles related to one of the most disturbing municipal ordinances we have ever seen. One article detailed an Act passed by the Providence City Council called the Community Safety Act and a second article titled, The Defense of the Providence Police Department. For both, we took an onslaught of hatred from the very people that were behind the ordinance. We posted the below picture to show our audience the type of individuals that were disrupting public meetings and pushing for the passing of an ordinance that we absolutely believe will create a dangerous environment for the citizens that live in Providence.
The picture created more hatred towards us, law enforcement and the Providence Police Department. As we have seen across the country, a small but vigilant segment of our society wants to intimidate, push and lie and if the truth is told, evil rushes towards the truth tellers.
We don’t care. Our editorial staff has over 100 years of law enforcement experience and we know bigotry and hatred when we see it and that is exactly what the Providence Community Safety Act is. It is an attack against the good men and women of the Providence Police Department.
The below letter was written by the Providence FOP to the City Council that is tasked with passing the ordinance one more time before it is the law. Their letter is accurate, true and correct. We here at Law Officer have a duty to tell you the truth, whether those in power like it or not. The truth is, the passing of this ordinance will send the city of Providence into a tail spin of violence. That is not scare tactics. Think Chicago but worse. Not even Chicago has passed something like we have seen here.
Below is the letter that was sent to the City Council today. We sincerely doubt they will care. They have chosen the criminal few over the majority of the good in Providence. The blood will literally be on their hands and we will be here reporting it along the way. For those that have launched a campaign of hatred against our publication….We don’t care. The men and women that work here run into dark alleys and face pure evil. They do in their respective communities what none of the punks behind this ordinance would ever do and ultimately, you know who you are. You are weak, cowards that could never have an actual debate on any of the issues you raise your voice to. That is why you scream and yell and use foul language. You are masking your utter weakness. A weakness, by the way, that would call 911 and cry like a bitch as soon as you feel threatened and when you do, you can be assured that the Providence Police Department will come and help you. That’s what they do and that is always what they will do….whether you care or not.
April 26, 2017
Dear City Council,
In one night, and in a matter of minutes, the mood and morale of the Providence police department changed for the worse. That is what happened on April 20th, when the Providence city council passed the Community Safety Act (CSA).
The mission of the Providence Police Department is to protect and serve those who live, work, and visit our capital city; and the men and women who don its uniform excel at it! There is a reason why the Providence Police Department was voted the “best community policing department” in New England; why we are one of the largest police departments in the country to be nationally (CALEA) accredited; why we are the largest department to be state accredited; why we were selected by the U.S. Department of Justice to create a national training protocol for police community partnerships; why violent crime is at historic lows; why in 2016 we had the fewest homicides (10) in over three decades; why we had no gang homicides in 2016; why year-to-date shootings (shootings are a more accurate measure of violence than murders) are down 30% (14 vs. 20); why in 2016 we made 5600 arrests, yet only five civilian complaints were filed against our officers; why or better yet how in 2015 and 2016 our Providence police seized a total of 300 firearms and amazingly had NO officer-involved-shootings; the list of these notable accomplishments goes on and on.
The reason for this is both true and simple. The men and women of the Providence police department are the most compassionate and courageous officers that patrol an urban city. Don’t believe me, simply examine the data and speak with community leaders and community members, as well as our community and law enforcement partners. In April, at the public hearing, speaker after speaker addressed the CALEA assessors, praising the efforts, relationships, and accomplishments of the men and women of the Providence police department. We are an agency deeply devoted to its neighborhoods; a department that is creative, innovative, and professional, a law enforcement agency that employs and continuously demonstrates best practices in policing.
Who is behind the CSA? Decide for yourself by looking at the social media outlets of these supporters in front of the State House holding signs that read “F**K the police,” “we hate police.” A message from one of the CSA leaders reads “The bricks we throw at POLICE today will build the schools of liberation tomorrow.” If you look at the symbol on their Facebook, you will see a black hooded figure with a fist in the air looming over a much smaller head of a police officer. Mind you, these are the same people that took over the city council chambers, sat in your chairs and then delayed the council session. Anyone else would have been arrested for disorderly conduct. What does this message and these two pictures tell you?
One – a distinct hatred for police.
Two – that this group does not understand that less active policing results in more crime on the streets; more crime victims.
FBI Director Comey said it best when he stated that more restrictions on police will lead to an increase in crime and violence in our cities. No one will be triumphant with their fist in the air if we have more homicides, more shootings, and more young minority crime victims. The CSA is idealistically misnamed. “Community” is NOT the whole of the residence of Providence nor is it composed of the men and woman who work in our city. Nothing about this legislation will ensure a safer Providence, and you need to consider whom you are putting your trust in if you choose final passage of it. I am still not convinced that all of the “supporters” of your CSA are citizens of Providence or ALL have even had issues with the Police in Providence. During the City Council meetings, I have heard testimony from some sharing their interaction with the police from their native country, TSA agents, security guards at nightclubs, and officers from other cities, none of which had anything to do with the Providence Police. Did you hear those?
And who is the city councilman introducing the CSA? Councilman Kevin Jackson. An elected official currently under a multi-felony indictment directly related to his position on the council; an elected official currently fighting for his own political life.
The CSA is a thirteen-page legal size document. The following are just a few glaring examples of what this Act requires:
1. The Act authorizes the Providence External Review Authority (PERA) to “review proposed labor agreements” between the City and the Fraternal Order of Police and make “recommendations to either or both parties.” Although this act is already governed by statute, the public already has the right to go to any open meeting to voice their concerns / recommendations, this proposal would only delay the already long process to ratify a contract by allowing yet another entity (which has no qualifications in contract / labor disputes) to make recommendations before a public hearing. Absurd!
2. The CSA allows PERA to “recommend diversionary reinvestments” and “reallocate” funding from the police budget to “municipal recreation, youth programming and employment opportunities.” Ludicrous! The police budget is already deeply depleted. Is PERA in a better position to determine the allocation of police resources than the police chief?
3. A portion of the CSA pertains to a Gang Data Base. The CSA would mandate that a gang member be “removed” from the “gang list” if he/she has no convictions within a two-year period. Outrageous! An MS-13, a Blood, a Crip, or a member of the Patriarca crime family must be removed because of this Act if he/she has no convictions within two years. Two years of no convictions or two years of not getting caught committing crimes in our city? I assume the authors of this CSA know better than police experts as to who should remain or be removed from a Gang Data Base?
4. When identifying gang members, the CSA prohibits the department from having as part of its criteria the “association with other people identified as gang members or any substantially equivalent factor.” Are they serious? Contacts and associations of known criminals can be, and often times are, a contributing factor in crime and victimization and often restricted to whom they can associate with by the courts, probation and parole entities. In our rules and regulations we are discouraged from associating with known criminal (gang) members. I guess it is because this would make us associates of the criminal community?
5. The CSA requires the Department to notify every subject (or their legal counsel) who has been stopped, that the video/audio recording of the stop is available for review at a “reasonable time” within “ten business days.” Absurd!
6. The CSA allows an individual to “file a civil action for injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as compensatory damages against any “officer” in violation of the ordinance. Did you know that the chief architect of the CSA is an anti-police attorney who has thousands of dollars in grants and funding from George Soros specifically to initiate complaints against the police? What is the fiscal note attached to the CSA? And what is its financial impact? Appalling; Disheartening; Unbelievable!
7. The CSA states we cannot ask someone who “appears” to be under the age of 18 for identification more than once. Why? If police can’t be subjective in their reasoning for probable cause how do you want us to be subjective in our definition of who “appears” to be over or under 18 years of age? How will this work at the College parties when we can only ask those we believe to be underage drinking for their identification, once, and be lied to by the party goers? Is the city council aware of RI State Motor Vehicle Law 31-10-27? Or are you aware of it and have decided to write an ordinance that supersedes RI State Law?
8. Subjects in a “Pedestrian stops” will now have a “physical copy of the report” of said stop. The date, time, location, race, gender, age (unless of course they “appear” to be under 18 and do not produce ID the first time asked”), in the officers own words giving rise to the stop, the scope of any search conducted (any of you heard of Terry v. Ohio – Terry Pat) etc. Officers will now be required to spend more time filing paperwork which means less time on the street as they will be required to finish this extra work before the end of their shift. Way to go! Lets take officers off the street when we already have a police department extremely understaffed already. Let’s not mention the impact that this alone will have on pro-active policing.
9. The wording in the “Limited English Proficient individuals” section takes the right of the limited English speaking person from having a choice in who they wish to have interpret for them in cases in which may be private and or embarrassing for them. This section also fails to define “questioning.” It doesn’t even set the bar at interrogation of a suspected criminal; it even covers simple interactions between a police officer and his/her community. Not every instance of “questioning” is adversarial between an officer and a citizen.
The title of the ordinance itself, the “Community Safety Act,” is offensive. Its content implies that the community needs to protect itself from the police. Imagine that for a minute. The citizens of Providence having to protect themselves from a nationally recognized, nationally accredited, 21st century community policing agency. The city council should know better.
Until last Thursday the Providence Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge #3 had a solid and healthy relationship with the Mayor, the City Council, and the Commissioner. For example: We supported the pilot program of Body Worn Cameras where other city police departments (i.e., Boston) refused or were court ordered. We assisted in the policy development and future issuance of the department-wide Body Worn Camera program. Providence will be the largest department in New England to use Body Worn Cameras. We even came to the table to have open discussions regarding the implementation of this, now ridiculous, CSA of which was hastily forced down our throats even after a simple request to meet another week or two to clarify and finalize legal language. And we were more than reasonable in our negotiations of the four-year collective bargaining agreement. These are just some of the many examples in which the Providence FOP worked jointly with the administration and our elected officials. Shame on me for believing that this was a bi-partisan meeting to better community relations with our police and ALL the people of the city we serve. Please do not hide behind your statement that this would also be safer for the police as this would be hard to believe when our manpower is at an all-time low because the CITY drags their feet regarding the hiring process (another argument for another time).
The passage of the CSA is unnecessary and unjust. It is a slap in the face to the men and women of the Providence Police Department and counterproductive to the safety of Providence. We have the data, both quantitative and qualitative, to support our position. The sponsors of the CSA have neither. They are a radical group with an extreme ideology and would be more than happy to have a police less society. We can assure you that the last thing the Act will do is ensure community safety. The people of Providence deserve better. We ask that you vote against the final passage of the CSA.
I will close on two last statements. First, the Providence Fraternal Order of Police came to the table amenably to discuss how we could help in making better relations between the police and this community group. The result was an ordinance that we do not agree with, and forced upon us over a three-day span, without addressing all of our concerns and with NO reason given.
Secondly I will leave you with this thought; many of the successful (directed?) targeted police activities performed by the members of our department, at the direction of the MAYOR and City Administration, would now be outlawed and largely nullified by this CSA. For example, the targeted police activity currently taking place in and around Kennedy Plaza; the very detail where police are asked to check on suspicious people who are in the area simply because a city hall employee confused their encounter with a suspicious person as a robbery. I am sorry; maybe I missed the purpose and the mission.
Fraternal Order of Police
Providence, Lodge #3