By Rekia Amoni and Nélida Tello
On November 5, Providence City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan introduced the “City-Wide Public Safety Plan,” which will increase the size of the city’s police department by 80 officers. In response, a small group of protesters lit fireworks outside of Ryan’s house during a City Council Committee on Finance Zoom call, demanding the resolution be dropped.
The plan expands the “Go Team” police service network, which facilitates collaboration between the Providence Police Department (PVD) and Family Service of Rhode Island (FSRI).
Last month, protests erupted in Providence after a police vehicle crashed into Jhamal Gonsalves, who was critically injured and left in a coma. Rocks, water bottles, and fireworks were hurled at officers outside a local police station.
According to councilmember Ryan, the official reason for the Public Safety Plan was to control the greater social unrest that has developed in the past few months. The resolution cites increases in “violent crime” and “looting” as important reasons to increase the size of PVD as well as the police budget to $88 million.
The plan also corresponds to another resolution which calls on Mayor Jorge Elorza and PVD to diversify the pool of Providence officers. Both resolutions were passed and have been sent to the Committee of Ordinances and if approved will then be sent to Mayor Elorza for implementation.
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