PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Three top Providence police commanders are the final candidates to be considered to be the city’s next police chief.

Acting Chief Oscar Perez, Major David Lapatin and Major Kevin Lanni will all appear at a public forum Wednesday to take questions about how they would lead the department.

The finalists were announced Tuesday morning by Mayor Brett Smiley. The announcement means Smiley will be promoting the new chief from within the department, rather than an outside candidate.

The questions are expected to be posed by moderators, utilizing input submitted by the public in a survey over the last several weeks.

Smiley, who will attend Wednesday’s 5:30 p.m. forum at the Providence Career and Technical Academy, will name the chief in the days afterward.

Perez, who was recently elevated to department’s second-highest job as deputy chief, is current the acting police chief, since Col. Hugh Clements departed last month for a job in Washington, D.C. If appointed permanent chief, Perez would be the first person of color to serve in the role.

Clements said before his retirement that he believed his replacement was someone within the ranks of the existing department. (Clements was assisting with the hiring process before his departure.)

Smiley had also said he was inclined to hire a chief who was either currently in the department, or had spent the majority of their career in Providence.

A total of 11 candidates applied for the job and seven were interviewed by the mayor, according to spokesperson Patricia Socarras.

Lapatin is the commander of the investigative division, which encompasses the detectives bureau, narcotics bureau and gun task force among others. He’s been a Providence police officer for 39 years, graduating from the academy in 1983.

Lanni, who was promoted to major in 2021, oversees the newly-created community operations and engagement bureau. He previously led the department’s narcotics bureau. He has 25 years of service on the force.

Perez, a 29-year veteran of the Providence police, commands the rank-and-file officers as deputy chief, and previously helped develop the community relations bureau.

All three candidates attended Providence public schools, though Lanni is the only candidate who currently lives in the city.

Steph Machado ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence, politics and more for 12 News. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook.