PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Hugh Clements, the outgoing chief of Providence police, has been named director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) for the U.S. Department of Justice, federal officials announced Thursday.

The “COPS” Office is responsible for “advancing community policing nationwide” officials said. Established in 1994, the office provides law enforcement agencies with grants, knowledge, and training to help reduce crime and build trust between those agencies and the communities they serve.

“I’m honored to have been chosen,” Clements said. “I truly am. I’m humbled.”

Clements announced he was leaving the Providence Police Department for a new job in late December, but did not immediately disclose his plans. The search for his replacement is ongoing. Mayor Brett Smiley announced last week that three to five finalists will be announced before a public forum on Feb. 8.

“I am confident that Chief Clements’s leadership will further enable the COPS Office to continue its important work to keep our communities safe and build trust and mutual respect between police and communities, and I look forward to working alongside him,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said.

Congressman David Cicilline said Thursday that he advocated for Clements to get the job, expressing his confidence in the outgoing chief to the Biden administration.

“Chief Clements has been an extraordinary police chief, and I definitely shared with the White House my confidence in him and the work that he has done in the city of Providence and how deeply respected he is,” Cicilline said. “I know he will be a magnificent leader of that office, and although it’s a loss for the Capital City, and I felt badly about that, I knew it was something that he was interested in and would be great at and I was proud to advocate for him.”

“It’s a superb choice,” Sen. Jack Reed said. “Chief Clements is one of the most distinguished and experienced police chiefs in the country.  He’s done a remarkable job in Providence, and he is someone who exemplifies the best qualities of a police officer: honesty, decency, dedication to the law, and respect for the community.”

Clements spent nearly 40 years as a police officer in Providence, working his way through the ranks until he became chief in 2012.

“It’s exhilarating on one hand going to an opportunity that is a tremendous one,” Clements said. “But truly bittersweet. People that know me know that.”

“I love the Providence Police Department,” he continued. “I will miss Providence and the department more than it misses me.”

Clements tells 12 News he is scheduled to start his new job on Jan. 30 and has already secured an apartment.