‘We encourage peacefulness, not lawlessness’: Providence police prepare for potential protests after Chauvin verdict


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence police officials are asking protesters to remain peaceful after the jury in former officer Derek Chauvin’s trial returns with a verdict.

Chauvin is the a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death, which sparked nationwide protests, including in Providence, last summer.

Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré said they’re confident Rhode Islanders will react to the verdict no matter what the jury decides.

“Whatever the action is here in Providence we just ask those who have a reaction emotionally or otherwise do it in a peaceful manor,” Paré said.

As of right now, Paré said they have no credible information regarding any planned riots or violence, but they are aware that that could change and are continuing to monitor it.

“Throwing bottles and bricks and objects at police officers doesn’t get us anywhere as a community,” he said.

Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements stressed that they are prepared to take the steps needed to keep everyone safe.

“We encourage peacefulness not lawlessness,” he said. “Providence Police are always prepared to take the appropriate steps to keep people safe, to keep property safe and to take fair, firm and impartial measures.”

Clements also said all members of the department will receive the most up-to-date de-escalation training available, on top of fair and impartial policing and implicit bias awareness training, by the end of this year.

This training is part of a broader focus on equity within the department, according to the city.

“Equity is rooted in all the work we do in Providence,” Mayor Jorge Elorza said. “We all have biases and they influence our actions and decision-making.”

The training will be conducted by KFD Training and Consultation, LLC, which provides training to all of the state’s police departments and has been reviewed and approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, according to Clements.

“We are committed to educating our officers through bias training, both implicit and explicit, and also furthering their knowledge on the concepts and practical aspects of procedural justice, respect, legitimacy and fairness towards members of the community,” Clements said.

The Rhode Island Foundation is providing $124,000 in funding to support the cost of the training and overtime compensation for a portion of the department so officers are able to participate without disrupting staffing levels.

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