Protection from Gardner is costing taxpayers thousands a week

Protection from Gardner is costing taxpayers thousands a week. (WJAR)

Keeping a watchful eye on convicted child rapist and kidnapper Richard Gardner is costing Providence taxpayers thousands of dollars. A spokeswoman for the police department told NBC 10 the police detail is costing the department approximately $19,000 a week.

Mayor Jorge Elorza, a Democrat who’s seeking another term, requested the around-the-clock surveillance following a heated neighborhood meeting in Washington Park on Oct. 17. Neighbors were outraged to learn Gardner, who was recently released from prison, is living in the city.

“We’ll assess it as we go but as of right now it’s continuing indefinitely,” Elorza said. “I want everyone in our city to be to rest assured that no one is going to break into their home, kidnap their child and do what this man did.”

Providence police have been providing Gardner a police detail, which consists of two officers at a time, since 11 p.m. on Oct. 17.

The officers working the police detail are being paid overtime. Otherwise, Major David Lapatin said the department wouldn’t have enough officers.

Independent mayoral candidate Dee Dee Witman says the police detail is not sustainable.

“I think it is a poor resource, a poor waste of our resources,” Witman said. “The city is taxed, the police department is taxed as well.”

Witman said if elected, she’d take a different approach.

“I absolutely would go to Mr. Gardner’s door, I’d make an appointment, meet with him, with the appropriate people in tow with me. Social services, neighborhood groups, police,” Witman said.

Witman says she’d ask Gardner to leave, but if he doesn’t she said she would put a stop to the police detail.

“You cannot spend money like that,” Witman said. “We don’t have money to spend.”

When asked what he would say to taxpayers who don’t believe it’s a wise use of taxpayer dollars, Elorza said, “When you look at the potential consequences, this is absolutely a cost worth incurring.”

If the city continues the police detail for a year, it would cost taxpayers approximately $988,000.

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