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Is Clements as New Head of RI Police Association at Odds with Other Chiefs?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements has been named the new President of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association — but as the public safety head of a "Sanctuary State" capital, is he in conflict with membership?  

In 2008, the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association voted to endorse then-Governor Donald Carcieri’s executive order addressing illegal immigration in Rhode Island -- which asked local police to check the immigration status of people who are being detained or investigated for a crime.

Warwick Police Chief Stephen McCartney, who was President of the Association at the time, said he was unaware of any change of position by the organization since then — despite Rhode Island being categorized as a sanctuary state after then-Governor Chafee changed the state's detainer policy. According to multiple law enforcement leaders, the Police Chief's Association polcy is still in place.

“I think that's a poor choice for [Clements] to be head of the Police Chiefs’ Association,” said Terry Gorman with Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement.  “He knows every nook and cranny, he could probably point out 500 illegal immigrants tomorrow.  They're not going to be able to enforce the law.  When 21 drugs dealers get arrested, I want to know their status.  But they can't ask.”

“I have a lot of respect for Clements.  He’s a by-the-book guy,” sad Gorman. “But he’s hamstrung.”

The City announced Clements is the first Providence Police Chief to serve as President of the Association since 1960 when Colonel John A. Murphy was appointed.

“Colonel Clements leads one of the finest police departments in the nation.  His commitment to Providence and its diverse community benefits the city every single day. I congratulate Colonel Clements on his selection as President of RIPCA which will allow communities throughout Rhode Island to benefit from his resounding leadership,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza on Monday.

Clements told GoLocal in an interview Monday night, "Since I got named Chief, and became more involved in the association, it's been a dormant issue -- I see it as a non-issue.  If the association is going to take a position, if they want to get involved, we'll certainly address it." 

Historical Perspective, Federal Spotlight

Colonel McCartney spoke to the Association’s decision under the Carcieri administration to support the controversial policy put forth by the then-Governor. 

“At that time, we were asked to weigh in, and that was based on a resolution and special meeting on the issue,” said McCartney  “We’ve had seven presidents since then, I don't know if there’s been an issue that’s come up again were we had to change it.

“The main tenant of the '08 policy, and our primary focus was on law offenders that were illegal -- as opposed to status offenders,” said McCartney. “During this past year, we are all now required to follow the Community Police Relations Act, which has a small section that pertains to immigration. If someone has a license or registration, then there is now reason to ask that person for any more forms of ID.”

“We voted on [Carcieri's order] in ’08, and approved it. It was a policy at the time, something else could come along,” said McCartney. “Colonel Clements works in a different situation than many of us work in, and that’s what he has to follow.”

Last year, the Center for Immigration Studies published of a map of "more than 200 cities, counties, and states across the United States are considered sanctuaries" -- including the designation of the state of Rhode Island for the policy enacted under Chafee that the Department of Corrections wouldn't honor a Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer without a warrant, then altered to require that detainers be accompanied by a judicial deportation or removal order.

“[Policy] change has either going have to happen at the Federal level, or if something happened to a child of an elected official here,” said Gorman. “I testified with McCartney, and Colonel Brendan Doherty — there was no BS then when he was there.”

In July 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security held a hearing on “Sanctuary Cities: a Threat To Public Safety” — and the subject of Providence came up.  

Jessica Vaughan, the Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, recounted the following in her testimony. 

“I have a friend. Her name is Heather. A few years ago she was carjacked at knife point and taken to Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island and raped repeatedly by an illegal alien who
had been in the custody of the Providence Police Department more than once, but was released because of then Mayor [David]Cicilline’s sanctuary policies. This was not a little thing,” said Vaughan.

“Sanctuary policies do nothing to build trust between immigrant communities and local law enforcement. They do not improve access to law enforcement services for immigrants, nor have they
been shown to increase the likelihood that more immigrant crime victims will report crimes. On the contrary, they destroy the trust of the community at large that the laws will be faithfully enforced
to preserve the quality of life for all,” she said. 


Related Slideshow: Police Militarization - Department by Department Breakdown

Below are those fifteen local police departments that have obtained military supplies, listed from least to most items acquired. The list does not include acquisition records for certain tactical weapons and supplies for which the Pentagon has refused to release department-specific data. (In those instances only county-level data has been released. That data is not included below.) Records are for recent acquisitions going back to 2009 and were obtained from the Defense Logistics Agency.

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Items Purchased: 3

Summary of Equipment: Dump truck (1 unit), Snow plow plade (1 unit), Truck and tractor attachments (1 unit)

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West Warwick

Items Purchased: 5

Summary of Equipment: Shotgun barrel (1 unit), Immersion suit (1 unit, can be used for underwater operations)

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East Providence

Items Purchased: 10

Summary of Equipment: Radio sets (4 units), Miscellaneous vehicle parts (6 total units)

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Items Purchased: 12

Summary of Equipment: M84 charging handle (8 units, is part of a rifle)

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Items Purchased: 15

Summary of Equipment: Small arms sling swivel (10 units), Optical reflex units (5 units)

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Items Purchased: 17

Summary of Equipment: Digital computer systems (3 units), Flat panel monitors (10 units)

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Items Purchased: 43

Summary of Equipment: Binoculars (5 units), Ballistic protective spectacles (25 units), Sight mount (5 units)

Photo credit: Stanislas PERRIN

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Items Purchased: 49

Summary of Equipment: Armor Plate (1 unit), Survival vest pocksts (30 units)

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Items Purchased: 70

Summary of Equipment: High capacity rifle magazines (12 units), Ammunition-carrying vests (4 units), Ballistic protective spectacles (20 units)

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North Kingstown

Items Purchased: 72

Summary of Equipment: High capacity rifle magazines (27 units), Small arms storage rack (5 units), Satellite systems navigation set (4 units)

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East Greenwich

Items Purchased: 99

Summary of Equipment: Binoculars (10 units), Ballistic and laser protective spectacles (53 units), Ballistic protective spectables (30 unites)

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Items Purchased: 100

Summary of Equipment: High capacity rifle magazines (100 units)

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Items Purchased: 257

Summary of Equipment: Ballistic and laser protective spectacles (6 units), Rifle bipods (10 units), Field pack (10 units, designed for clothing rations, and additional items like ammunition), Passenger motor vehicles (3 units)

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Items Purchased: 1,604

Summary of Equipment: HMMWV (Humvee) M1165 Assembly Kit (2 units), Gun magazines (432 units), Night vision face masks (8 units), Gun silencers (54), Small arms sight mounts (6 units)

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Items Purchased: 2,389

Summary of Equipment: Armor plates (30 units), Demolition firing device (1 unit), Improvised Explosive Device training it (9 units), High capacity rifle magazines (599 units), Chemical protective suit (1 unit), High-speed tractor (1 unit), Diesel generators (2 units), Flat panel monitors (21 units)


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