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Crime in Providence: Top Stories in RI in 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012


Providence saw an uptick in murders in the same year that its police force dropped to its lowest level in two decades thanks to budget cuts, according to a GoLocalProv report earlier this year.

As of late August, the number of sworn officers stood at 428, down from 494 just 18 months before the story ran.

Overall, the city actually saw its crime numbers go down in nearly every category, but murders had jumped from 12 in 2011 to 17 this year as of Dec. 16. The city also saw a 9 percent increase in forcible sex crimes and a 3 percent increase in drug crimes. On the positive side, robbery with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm decreased by 31 and 20 percent increase, respectively.

The number of sworn staff peaked at just over 500 during the Dean Esserman era. But during the 1990s the department functioned with a smaller complement, generally hovering around 440 officers. That makes the current force level the lowest it has been in two decades.

“It’s fair to say the numbers are the numbers. The staffing is at the lowest it has been in years,” Chief Hugh Clements said at the time. “I would agree we need to start beefing up our numbers again.”

The city is attempting to make that happen. Thanks to previously untouched federal funds, the force will grow by 18 officers in 2013, which should be a boost for the department.


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