Almeida to Elorza: Appoint a black police major
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Joseph S. Almeida is joining those calling on Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza to appoint a black police officer to the rank of major to help the Police Department better reflect the city’s racial demographics and to improve its relations with the minority community.
“I’m challenging the mayor, because he can make it happen. This shouldn’t be an issue in 2015,” said Representative Almeida (D-Dist.12, Providence), who is a retired Providence police officer. “I’ve been trying since 1979 to get a person of color up in the ranks, and it’s about time this city recognizes the message it would send to finally have a black officer in a white shirt.”
A recent study by the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers commissioned by the NAACP found that the highest rank held by a black officer in the Providence Police Department is sergeant. The NAACP and other advocates are calling on Mayor Elorza to begin rectifying the situation and improving diversity in the upper ranks of the department by appointing a black officer as a major.
Representative Almeida says he supports that effort, and believes that the Police Department needs to make significant efforts to improve its relations with communities of color, both by employing and promoting more minority officers so the department reflects the community, and by making every effort to be part of the community in positive ways.
“It shouldn’t be that anyone’s only contact with the police comes from things like traffic stops or arrests. People in the neighborhoods need to see police who are just walking the beat, knowing and interacting with people and being part of the community’s events. People need to feel that the police are on their side, and are there to keep them safe. I wouldn’t say we’re there yet, so work needs to be done,” said Representative Almeida. “Seeing more officers who look like them, and having more of those officers in positions where they are helping to set the direction of the department, would be a step in that direction.”
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903