EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The East Providence police union is sounding the alarm over the “deplorable” condition of the city’s police station.
East Providence Detective Cpl. Kurt Ripke, president of International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 569, tells 12 News the building is unsafe, and their concerns have fallen on deaf ears with city leaders.
“We’re just not happy with how things are going,” Ripke said. “The roof has been leaking for a couple years, but over the last year it’s been really bad. It’s just pouring water everywhere.”
Ripke described the condition of the station as “embarrassing.”
“A lady was giving a statement the other day and water was dripping on her head,” he recalled. “A little kid walked in the lobby, the water was pouring all over the floor, he slipped and fell. It’s just a liability issue for the city. It’s a safety concern for us and the community.”
The leaky roof is just one of the building’s problems, according to Ripke.
“The prisoners’ area is deplorable,” Ripke said. “It’s either freezing cold or extremely hot. It’s just not a safe area.”
“We’re supposed to be a temporary detention facility,” he continued. “We try not to keep people here because it’s just not a safe or healthy for anybody.”
Ripke said the union has been voicing his concerns about the building’s condition for years, before he became president.
But Mayor Bob DaSilva argues the complaints don’t date back years. He said he’s shocked by the union’s claims.
“I don’t understand why all of a sudden they had to come out to you,” DaSilva said, addressing questions from 12 News. “Disappointed. That’s the word I have for the union members that went out and did this when we’ve been nothing but acquiescent to their requirements, their needs and their wants.”
DaSilva said the city has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into the building and are actively working to find a vendor to fix the leaky roof.
“I want to tell everyone right now that we are working on it,” he said. “We’re working on getting the roof fixed.”
DaSilva, who’s a retired Pawtucket police officer, also said they’re working to install a garage for the department’s armored vehicle, which is currently being stored by Cranston Police because there’s no room in their parking lot.
Ripke also raised concerns when it comes to space. He said officers are often processing evidence on the same table where they eat their dinner.
DaSilva said the city is opening a new communications center at the District 3 fire station in Rumford, moving dispatch to that location and out of the department, freeing up space.
As for all of the other issues, DaSilva said it takes time to address them all.
“If I could snap my fingers and make something happen overnight, I would do it,” he said. “But there’s processes, there’s bidding processes that we have to go through, there’s laws that we have to follow, there’s finding funding that we need to do, there’s all kinds of stuff that goes on.”
Ripke, who said the union voted last week to go public with these issues, hopes that speaking out will spark change.
“It’s just empty promise after empty promise,” he said. “Nothing that we’ve asked for has actually come to fruition.”
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