Police union attacks mayor on staffing

President of the Fraternal Order of Police Taft Manzotti

The head of the Providence police union said Friday that officers are frustrated at watching the mayor denounce violent crime in the capital city and asking that police increase patrols.

Fraternal Order of Police President Taft Manzotti said Mayor Angel Taveras knew about the lack of police on the streets when he took office but he has yet to hire anyone to combat the problem.

The city has seen a string of violent incidents recently. A man was beaten to death behind the $3 Bar, fights on Federal Hill led to that bar's temporary closure, and then police reported a shooting outside Skarr Lounge on Thursday morning.

Providence police said they will step up patrols as a result. Manzotti said it's too little, too late.

"People want police now. It took this drastic problem that they knew about back in 2012 and could have prepared for much better back then, but it took this problem now to come to the forefront," Manzotti said.

He's going after Taveras for not adequately staffing the police force. Fewer than 400 officers are employed in the city. Manzotti said that's the lowest level in Providence since the 1970s.

"Our contract when negotiated said 428," Manzotti said.

Manzotti said Taveras is trying to gain points on the backs of police during an election year, they're not having it.

"Are we behind Mayor Taveras right now? No, we're not. He has not lived up to his obligations to us. He has broken his promises to us," Manzotti said.

Taveras would not agree to an interview Friday, but his office released a statement.

"The Providence police are dedicated professionals who succeed under difficult circumstances to keep our city safe. Like me, the union is obviously looking forward to more officers, cars and equipment on the streets. Reinforcements are on the way," the statement said.

City Councilman Nick Narducci suggested Providence police get help from state police. Manzotti called than an insult.