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Public Safety

Public safety is public health. Everyone must feel safe living, working, and visiting here. We will move beyond the failed approaches of the past by addressing current safety concerns effectively, building comprehensive strategies that prevent crime at its source, and providing safety in all neighborhoods. The people of Providence widely support responsive, accountable policing. Our approach to public safety must be structured around mutual trust, innovative approaches to policing, and investments in our communities and youth to address the underlying conditions that lead people to crime. Communities are safer when residents have access to good jobs, health care, housing, infrastructure, and social services necessary to help them thrive.

Developing trust

As mayor, Gonzalo will:

  • Create an evidence-based community policing model that trains officers in de-escalation and relationship building, and places them in long-term assignments where they become integrated in the community, allowing them to interact directly with neighbors at a human scale to build trust. 

  • Ensure that all emergency responders and public safety workers are trained and certified on nonviolence and racial equity

  • Support the statewide repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR).

  • Create a culture that is supportive of police officers while holding accountable those who do not live up to professional standards through a process that is transparent, fair, and free of favoritism and political influence.

  • Expand the Citizens Academy to include youth from our high schools. 

  • Ensure that public safety personnel reflect the diversity of our minority/majority city and encourage more public safety personnel to live in the city by offering a homebuyer down payment assistance program to all City employees who want to become owner-occupants in Providence.

  • Address normal attrition rates in a more consistent and predictable way to avoid the significant dips in staffing that we have experienced in recent years.

  • Explore best practices around creating alternative pathways for newly graduated Criminal Justice majors and mid-career professionals to enter the public safety field, including a Public Safety Fellowship program.

Providing the right kinds of response

Many situations that involve the police are not violent and represent issues related to mental health or substance abuse. Gonzalo will ensure there are resources and attention paid to responding appropriately and nonviolently to these situations. As Mayor, he will:

  • Lay out clear goals and expectations for the Police Chief and the department - and hold them accountable.

  • Build upon the Crisis Intervention Response Program diversion unit model to deploy joint public safety response teams (that include fire/emergency medical technicians, behavioral health clinicians, and social workers) to respond to situations involving people experiencing crises related to mental health issues, poverty, homelessness, and substance abuse. 

  • Implement evidence-based training models that support reforms, including transparency, accountability and de-escalation tactics.

  • Fundamentally reform the City’s approach to charging and prosecuting misdemeanors at the Municipal and District Court levels. 

  • As suggested by the Governor’s Task Force on Overdose Prevention and Intervention, support the creation of Post Overdose (or incident) Placement Teams, led by peer recovery specialists, to provide coordinated connections to housing, peer support, and harm reduction for adults with serious substance use disorders after an emergency. 

Addressing underlying conditions

We must tackle the conditions that drive people to engage in criminal activity that can quickly escalate: persistent poverty, lack of economic mobility, neighborhood disinvestment, untreated mental health or substance abuse disorders, and lack of hope. Gonzalo’s platform is focused on alleviating poverty and lack of opportunity. As Mayor, he will:

  • Partner with agencies and private employers to expand year-round youth employment opportunities in every neighborhood.

  • Ensure that every Providence Public School student receives robust nonviolence training in elementary, middle, and high school.  

  • Partner with higher education institutions and arts organizations in our city to expand evening and weekend programming at our recreation centers and leverage available resources to improve their facilities.

  • Elevate youth voices by appointing young adults to key city boards and commissions.

  • Create a support network for students and parents that connects them with data on demand-driven career opportunities and local employers who can offer hands-on experience as they prepare for a future of success in the local workforce. 

  • Analyze the safety and social service investments made from federal relief funds to determine how to sustain what’s working. 

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