Providence mayoral candidate Smiley addresses recent violence, calls on elected officials to put politics aside


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A candidate hoping to become the next mayor of Providence says current Mayor Jorge Elorza and state leaders are not doing enough to address violence in the capital city.

On Sunday, several people were injured in a series of violent incidents and a Warwick woman was shot and killed in Providence’s 13th homicide of the year.

The victim, later identified as Miya Brophy-Baermann, 24, was standing in the street talking to a friend when she was shot by people driving by in a car, according to police, who don’t believe she was the intended target.

Then, on Tuesday, a woman told police she was dragged from her vehicle and beaten by ATV riders at the intersection of Smith and Orms streets.

Brett Smiley, former director of the R.I. Department of Administration, addressed the recent uptick in violent crimes with reporters outside the R.I. Convention Center Thursday morning.

“And during this time, we’ve heard almost nothing from leaders at the city and state level about what they’re going to do to stop it,” he said.

Both Elorza and Gov. Dan McKee have separately addressed the violent incidents.

McKee said he’s puzzled as to why Elorza hasn’t taken him up on his offer to provide the city with state resources.

In a May 27 letter obtained by 12 News, McKee told Elorza he was willing to deploy the R.I. State Police Neighborhood Response Team, which the governor described as a “federally funded program that has been successfully engaged in previous years to help curb violence and protect communities.”

During his weekly briefing Tuesday, McKee claimed that nearly two months and a number of violent incidents later, Elorza still hasn’t responded to that letter. Elorza later told reporters the city was not turning down help.

“It’s my understanding that our chief and the colonel of the state police, they’ve been in conversations seeing how this could work,” Elorza said. “We have the same goal. We want to get these guns off the streets, we want to keep as many of our young people alive.”

Smiley told reporters elected leaders need to put politics aside and accept all additional resources made available to the city, including support from state police. He says it’s “an all-hands-on-deck moment for our city.”

“This isn’t a criticism of the Providence Police Department; they are staffed at historically low levels,” Smiley added. “The state police in particular can and should provide particular assistance in dealing with the ATV problem.”

Smiley said the issue with ATVs and dirt bikes is one that crosses city and town lines and requires more collaboration. According to him, state police are well suited to help Providence get a handle on what Smiley calls “a serious problem.”

However, Smiley did tell 12 News he thinks the relationships between the command staffs of various law enforcement agencies are “very strong.”

“I do believe that the departments are collaborating and working well together,” Smiley said.

“We need to work together as a state and the greater Providence region to address these issues and set politics aside right now so that all of our residents, whether they be in Providence or another municipality, can feel safe and confident that this is a place to live and work and grow up and raise a family,” he continued.

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