PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence City Council met Thursday night to discuss a proposal to rework the police department and its budget after it was previously canceled on Tuesday.
The discussion came after hundreds spoke out at previous meetings demanding some type of change, amidst nationwide calls to defund police.
Two resolutions came out of Thursday night’s meeting. The first comes from Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan introducing a resolution requesting the creation of continuing education requirements for officers.
Ryan felt the need for this resolution after hearing 9 hours of testimony and suggestions on how the City should defund or take away programs from police.
“Countless professional fields require annual continuing education, and I don’t think a police department should be any different,” she said. “Currently, there are no continuing education mandates in the City of Providence for our police officers. Training around cultural competency, mental health, and other technical skill programs would help to keep our officers abreast of the latest industry developments and to higher professional standards.”
Ryan continued, saying how there are countless professions that require annual continuing education and thinks the police department shouldn’t be any different.
The city of Providence has passed its tax levy for the coming year but they have yet to decide how they are going to spend the money. Ryan says she wants to see part of that budget reallocated to support this resolution adding this type of training helps everyone involved.
“I know Providence has an excellent police department, but our officers’ training shouldn’t end with the Academy graduation. It is important as city leaders that we provide our employees with the tools they need to succeed,” she said. “Creating continuing education guidelines, programs and standards will help our police officers be better prepared for many of the challenges that they face while at work
The second resolution comes from Council President Sabina Matos, urging the Rhode Island General Assembly to expand the types of degrees eligible for education reimbursement to law enforcement officers.
The goal establishes an incentive pay program by which municipalities can reimburse officers for furthering their education.
Currently, this program allows for officers to reimbursed for behavioral science courses only if they are simultaneously enrolled in a program to obtain a degree in law, law enforcement or criminal justice.
“Offering public safety officials a robust range of educational opportunities from social work to psychology or public health will allow law enforcement officers to gain new perspectives on how to respond to crisis situations and engage with their communities,” Matos said. “It is clear that our current systems are not working to the best of their ability. Moving forward, the Council will work to support education, reform and equity in law enforcement while keeping community input as a top priority.”
All of this comes as another “defund the police” rally is scheduled in Providence Friday afternoon.