‘Safer than we have ever been’: Elorza says perception, reality of increased violence in Providence is key


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Despite the recent uptick in violence across Providence, Mayor Jorge Elorza is reassuring everyone that residents and visitors alike are much safer than they were just decades ago.

Officers in the capital city have been busy the past couple of weekends, responding to several shooting incidents and other violent crimes.

Elorza noted that crimes like robberies and assaults are down from last year, and over the past five years, all violent crimes have decreased with the exception of homicides.

“The reality of crime and the perception of crime, they’re both incredibly important,” Elorza said. “Violence today compared to any crime in our history – going back 10, 20, 30, even 100 years – we are safer today than we have ever been.”

But not everyone agrees with the mayor’s assertions, including Rhode Island Hospital employee Thaddeus Ilams.

Ilams said he and his colleagues regularly see the impacts of violence first hand.

“Safe? No, I don’t necessarily feel Providence is safe,” Ilams said. “We see directly what’s going on. It’s an unprecedented rate of violence and it’s concerning.”

When asked what he thought of Elorza’s view of crime in the capital city, Ilams candidly said, “maybe they should take a trip around Providence at night time … and see how safe they feel.”

12 News asked 30 people throughout Providence Monday whether they felt the city was safe. Of them, 26 said yes and four said no.

Taylor Hirsch said violence happens in cities all across the country, and Providence is safer than most.

“Providence is very safe,” she said. “I’ve always felt comfortable, especially as a female, walking around the city … It is a city, things do happen, [you just have to] be aware of that.”

Joseph Lannigan now lives in Connecticut, but said he regularly visits his friends and family in Providence.

While admitting the city has “come a long way,” Lannigan said he would like to see some changes, including increased patrols and tougher laws.

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