PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Police Chief Col. Hugh Clements acknowledged Friday the city is currently in a “hot zone” period for shootings, but stressed that detectives have “some very active investigations” underway.
Clements said the city has seen nine shootings since the beginning of the year, two of which were homicides. Another was the high-profile shooting in the parking garage at the Providence Place mall. He said the city had seven shootings at the same point in 2017, six in 2016, four in 2015 and 11 in 2014.
“In my experience, in all of my years as a Providence police officer, in my 30-plus years, we’ve been in these hot zones where, in a two-week period, there’s a bunch of shootings,” Clements said. “And we’re in one right now.”
Clements and Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare called a Friday afternoon press conference to discuss a bloody week in the capital city that has included at least five shootings.
The first occurred Sunday on Broad Street, where an 18-year-old was injured in what appeared to be a drive-by shooting. The next happened just a day later on Monday, when a 33-year-old victim was shot in the leg on Manton Avenue. The third was Tuesday, when a 22-year-old man was shot and killed on Michigan Avenue. The fourth shooting was an incident at Sayles and Harriet Streets. The fifth occurred near Cranston Street.
Clements declined to offer specific details about any of the incidents, but acknowledged some are gang-related and some stem from personal disputes. He said this week’s shootings have occurred in four separate parts of the city.
The chief said the department will have “directed resources” in some neighborhoods and some officers will receive overtime to remain on the beat.
Pare said the city has “too many people getting shot,” but again downplayed criticism from the Providence police union that the uptick is connected to a new police reform ordinance that took effect Jan. 1. He called the union’s claim “preposterous.”
“We will not tolerate the continuation of guns and the use of guns in this city,” Pare said.
Mayor Jorge Elorza did not attend the press conference. He has been in Washington, D.C., since Wednesday for the annual winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He is scheduled to return to Providence Friday night.