I rise to speak in favor of the Providence Community Police Relations Act as amended and to express my thanks to the working group that was able to bridge the differences among all the stakeholders to amend the Ordinance to gain consensus support.
A month ago, I voted to table the ordinance for 30 days. I did so because the Chief of Police was concerned about his ability to lead the Department if the Ordinance were enacted in the version then before us. He asked for the opportunity to work with other stakeholders. If allowed that opportunity, Chief Clements affirmed that he would work in good faith to address the remaining issues, and then work with the rank and file of the Department to carry out their mission once amended legislation was enacted.
I supported this effort. While there is always room to improve police-community relations, the Providence Police Department does many things well.They are the largest police department in New England to receive national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Chief Clements has been nationally recognized for his accomplishments in the field of police-community relations, recently traveling to Washington to attend a conference on best practices.. While supporting the broad goal of improving police-community relations, he wanted to bring positive change to the Police Department without destroying what was working well.
Over the past 30 days, the working group developed improvements to the Ordinance that allowed Chief Clements and Union President Bohm to support it as amended. This consensus will improve the chances of success once the Ordinance is enacted and implemented. We have seen a successful conclusion of the legislative process, in which change occurs not because one side has vanquished and humiliated the other, but instead where people work together to make the City better. I know that we are in a better place than we were 30 days ago, and I am optimistic that thanks to everyone=s work police community relations in Providence will be in a better place next year.