Under Taveras Prov Crime Among Worst in US - National Report
Monday, February 17, 2014
The annual national study by Congressional Quarterly analyzes murders, rapes, robbery, aggravated assaults, burglaries and motor vehicle thefts in more than 400 cities. Since Taveras took over for Mayor for now Congressman David Cicilline, Providence has dropped from 44 spots in the national rankings and is now among the cities in the top 25% for serious crime.
The annual study prepared by the CQ press is the measuring stick for analyzing trends of serious crimes in cities in the U.S. "The purpose of City Crime Rankings is to serve as a resource for researchers, city and law enforcement officials, and the community. The book provides the means by which individuals can compare local communities to other similar communities through contrast with the national level of reported crime—more specifically, crime rates per 100,000 for individual types of reported crime, for violent and property crime categories, and for overall crime," said CQ Press, the widely respected Congressional Quarterly publishing group.
Mayor Taveras told Providence residents in his recent State of the City address that Providence crime was not a serious problem, "But we cannot lose sight of the fact that Providence is a safe city. I’ll say it again – Providence is a safe city. And we are working to make it even safer by eliminating illegal guns from our streets," said Taveras. He is now a Democratic candidate for Governor of Rhode Island.
According to the CQ analysis of crime data, Providence's ranking fell more spots than almost all of its peer cities in New England. New Haven, Hartford, New Bedford, Boston, Fall River and Brockton all held their positions in the rankings better during the four year period than Providence. Only Worcester, MA and Bridgeport, CT fell more spots in the national ranking. GoLocal heard from a range of leaders and all five of the candidates for Mayor regarding the crime ranking of Providence on the national list.
Is this the best we can do?
A number of candidates for Mayor challenge Mayor Taveras' claim that the City of Providence is safe. Democratic candidate Brett Smiley claims the city can -- and must -- do better in addressing the crime problem.
"We simply must do better. My goal is for Providence to become the safest city of its size in America. The public safety challenges we're facing affect everything from our economy to our school system. There have already been three murders in our city this year, and last year there were 100 shootings. 100 shootings is 100 too many, and we need to be doing more. Providence needs more officers on the streets, a recommitment to community policing, improved data and technology and more," Smiley told GoLocal. He has written a comprehensive plan to combat crime.
Providence is planning a new class at the police academy, but one councilman points out that this will need help to fill the huge void in staffing. "Last month, we had a US Congressman [David Cicilline] and a Mayor [Allan Fung] - have their cars broken into and items stolen while in Providence. If you're the average person and see this, there's cause for concern," said Providence Councilman Luis Aponte (Ward 10).
"We're at the lowest compliment we've been at in the police force in 15 years. Part of that has been attrition -- there have been a number of retirements. Even with the upcoming Academy this spring, by the time it's done, we'll see be at the same level, with the attrition, retirements that we'll see," said Aponte.
"To anyone who has been the victim of crime or is close to someone who has been, Providence is not safe enough. We can and we must continue to increase the safety of our city for everyone," said Lorne Adrain, candidate for Mayor and businessman. According to FBI crime data, Providence is the second most dangerous city or town in Rhode Island.
One leader, Teny Gross who heads the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, says Providence and cities like it have unique challenges. "I know the Newarks, the Chicagos. Providence, we have a complex set of challenges -- we're a poor city, with 1600 plus gang members, nightlife bringing in people from out of state, highway access with 95 for drugs," said Gross. The Institute utilizes Nonviolence Trainings in prison and schools, Street Outreach, hospital response to violent crime, employment services and enrichment activities.
"You need to look at two perspectives, and what we've accomplished. We used to have many more gang conflicts -- we used to have over ten across the city, now we've got two. We've made progress with group-driven violence. There's still a lot of individuals, without hope -- but with access to guns. It's a bit hard to identify those individuals, it's different than a group dynamic," said Gross.
Providence candidate for Mayor Jorge Elorza also see the link between poverty and crime. "Growing up on Cranston Street in a neighborhood where I saw first-hand how violence can infect the community, I know that nothing else matters unless our residents feel safe, and right now, too many Providence residents don't. My vision for public safety includes having every household know at least one police officer on a first-name basis and engaging community partners that give our children safe outlets and help create a culture of non-violence," said Elorza.
Similar to Elorza, Providence City Council President Michael Solomon outlines the challenges of understaffing for the City. "I applaud Chief Clements' leadership of our police department despite having approximately 75 fewer officers on the street than five years ago. The city is set to convene a new police academy for 50 new officers and this will be an important first step in strengthening community policing. Our city is safest when we have our police officers in the neighborhoods – walking the beat and biking in the street," said Solomon.
Related Slideshow: Providence’s Most Violent Neighborhoods
Each week, the Providence Police Department releases its "Weekly Crime Comparison Report" on its website. The breakdown covers how many crimes have occured in the past week, past month, and year to date in each Police District and comparing them with the same time interval from the year prior, reflecting changes in crime rates. GoLocal has distilled the key data points from this weeks report to reflect YTD crime data grouped by general category- violent, property, other, and total. For the full report as filed by the PPD, click here.
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