I-Team: Providence, state police cooperative shelved

Just days after it was proposed, a plan to assign Rhode Island state troopers to help out in Providence has been shelved.

The idea met a lot of resistance from Providence police, which had everything to do with the way the plan was presented. It never was presented to the men and women of the Providence police. They found out about it through a leaked memo from state police.

In a letter obtained by the I-Team, the executive board of the Providence police union writes to its members, saying:

"As it currently stands, the matter is on hold and nothing has been solidified. We are continuing to work on the issue and will have further discussions with the Commissioner (Steven Pare) and Colonel (Hugh Clements) on ways to access funding for future Providence Police Department initiatives."

Providence officers were surprised to find out about the now-stalled plan from a leaked state police memo.

The memo, written by Lt. Col. Michael Winquist, laid out the details of a new Neighborhood Response Team, which would be manned by six state troopers and six Providence officers beginning in January and running overnights until early September.

The funding would come from millions of dollars forfeited by Google for illegal ads, which state police had a piece of but Providence does not.

Many Providence officers told the I-Team on condition of anonymity that this is about pride in the work they do day in and day out.

Officers point to doing more with less. Despite being shorthanded, crime stats are as low as last year, fewer murders have occurred and more guns have been taken on the streets. They say state troopers in the city signals some sort of failure on their part.

Providence police union President Taft Manzotti said with funding and manpower, officers can do the job and do it well. The number of Providence police officers has dwindled to 407 after a high of 494 officers seven years ago.

Some officers were also suspicious of a political hand in the timing of the unit, which would end right when Providence Mayor Angel Taveras heads into a Democratic primary for governor.