PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence Police Chief Hugh Clements is defending the department’s decision to allow three recruits to graduate from the city’s police academy, even though they didn’t pass their firearms training course within the required timeframe.
Clements said the recruits were given several days worth of additional firearms training in order to meet the qualifications necessary to graduate.
“Before their entrance into the academy, these three recruits did not undergo any previous training in this specific area nor did they have prior experience discharging a firearm,” Clements said in a statement.
Clements also said the recruits “did not display deficiencies in any other police academy training … leading up to the firearm qualification segment.”
This comes a couple of days after the the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3 accused the city of dismissing academy policy and pushing the recruits through the process.
In a statement, the FOP said by doing this, the city is picking and choosing “which policies are worthy of being strictly adhered to and those that can be bent to fit a desired outcome.”
“This is much more than just an issue of several recruits not qualifying within the parameters of the firearms policy, it’s more about public safety and, of course, police officer safety,” the FOP said in a statement. “We need quality over quantity and strong leadership that supports the work of the officers.”
FOP president Michael Imondi said it’s unfair that the three recruits were given additional time and opportunities to complete their training.
“The other 46 recruits passed it,” Imondi said. “The previous academy passed it under the same firearms training course that we have now.”
“If everybody else passed it and these three did not, then are they not cut out for this position? Or are they getting special treatment?” he continued.
Imondi added, “you don’t get 20 chances to get it right, you get one.”
“If they get, God forbid, involved in an officer-involved shooting … the firearms instructors of this academy have to go and testify in court to the training level that was given to these individuals. How do they say ‘yeah they were trained within policy and procedure’ when they weren’t?”
Clements said the Providence Police Department’s firearms policy and training curriculum is currently being reviewed and will be amended as needed ahead of next year’s training academy.
The 70th Providence Police Academy is scheduled to graduate on Nov. 6.