Esserman Is No Longer Viable in Providence

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


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When it rains it pours. For embattled Providence Chief of Police Dean Esserman, it was not a good weekend. GoLocal reported underage drinking at the chief’s house over the weekend. If the alleged underage drinking occurred under the chief’s watch, one could argue that he violated social host laws.

What is the social host law?

Basically, the social host law will fine any adult in RI “who knowingly permits minors to consume alcohol in his or her home.” First-time offenders can be fined up to $1,000 and jailed up to 6 months. The law was passed after a few high-profile incidents in the state.

Obviously, whenever an incident such as this occurs at a law enforcer’s home it raises concerns. If the chief isn’t following the laws how can he enforce them, right? Or if the chief doesn’t have control over his own family how can he run a police department?

Parents should look in the mirror

If we’re going to hold Chief Esserman to this standard, we had better be able to look ourselves in the mirror. Let’s not fool ourselves, many parents host parties for their kids and other kids find out about the party. The uninvited guests may be rowdy, obnoxious, and often bring their own beverage – in this case alcohol – to the party. Don’t we recall when we were kids and we saw this at many a teenage gathering we attended?

In my opinion, Esserman becomes culpable if after recognizing there was underage drinking he allowed it to continue. From GoLocal’s report it does not appear that was the case and he requested the party crashers leave his house once he got wind of the underage drinking. That’s probably what we all would have done in that situation and some of the comments coming from the our-defecation-isn’t-smelly Providence City Council is head-scratching. It’s as if they were simply looking for another reason to pile onto an already troubled Chief.

But is Esserman viable?

And while Esserman is a parent like many of us he’s also the chief law enforcement officer in the city, Commissioner Steven Pare notwithstanding. That means alleged events like this are always up for public debate fair or otherwise. It’s imperative the chief maintain the public’s trust and respect amongst the rank and file policemen in order to perform his position effectively. Unfortunately, the chief has taken quite a number of shots recently and what teenager would dare bring alcohol to a revered police chief? There are many things we did as teens but going to the police chief’s house with beer while he was home and thinking we’d get away with it is not one of them. This alleged incident demonstrates Esserman has lost the respect a chief must have. Therefore, I believe Dean Esserman is no longer viable as the police chief in Providence and that he should resign immediately.

Providence needs new leadership that will have an opportunity to re-establish the relationship between officers and leadership. Providence needs new leadership that doesn’t carry the baggage Esserman is carrying. And lastly, Providence needs a chief not associated with the disgraced Cicilline administration.

No, the allegations of this incident shouldn’t be the direct cause leading to his termination or resignation. Instead this is the last straw in a series of incidents that demonstrate that Esserman no longer commands the respect the chief must have to lead the city’s police force and that a new voice is required in order to meet the city’s law enforcement challenges.

Let’s hope Mayor Tavares can demonstrate the same leadership and willingness to make tough decisions in Esserman’s case as he has done elsewhere in the city.

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Don Roach is a member of the RI Young Republicans and blogs politics, music, life, and everything in between at


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