PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ As the investigation into what police are calling the largest shooting in the city’s history continues, Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré tells 12 News it will take more than just removing illegal guns from streets to break the ongoing cycle of violence.
“It’s not only guns and access to guns,” Paré said during an interview on 12 News Now at 4. “There’s a lot of factors that go into why young men, mostly young men, are attracted to these neighborhood gangs.”
Watch the full interview with Paré in the video above.
Paré said he wishes it was an easy fix, however, there are a series of socioeconomic issues that also need to be addressed.
“I wish there was a simple solution,” he said. “But we’ve got to look at this holistically.”
When asked about the upcoming Providence Police Academy, Paré said the department plans to focus heavily on social justice and de-escalation tactics this year.
“We have to change in this profession in light of things that have gone on nationally, and locally as well,” he said. “We need to train our police officers that they are decision makers, and what they decide on the street has a significant impact on those they are serving.”
R.I. State Police Col. James Manni recently sounded the alarm that the agency is facing a “personnel crisis” due to retirements and turnover.
Paré said the Providence Police Department isn’t in “crisis” mode when it comes to hiring.
He said while they could certainly use more officers, he’s not worried because by the end of the year, the 50 new recruits will have finished their training at the Providence Police Academy.
When asked about the recent uptick in illegal dirt bike and ATV use on city streets, Paré said their number one priority is to keep the public and their officers safe.
“We do everything we can do it safely,” he said. “So to the riders who believe there is no response, there will be a response and we will eventually catch you.”
Paré encouraged concerned residents to contact the Providence Police Department if they see large groups of ATV and dirt bike riders acting recklessly.
“They’ve got no place on the streets,” he said of ATVs and dirt bikes.