NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (WPRI) — It remains to be seen whether Rhode Island State Police troopers will be sent to patrol Block Island this summer, but one thing’s for sure — the town will not be paying for it.
The New Shoreham Town Council struck down a agreement Wednesday to fund the supplemental patrols throughout the summer months. The vote was 4-1, with First Warden André Boudreau being the only councilor in favor of the agreement.
Prior to this year, troopers were sent to patrol Block Island at no cost to the town. Rhode Island State Police requested payment for the 15-week stint last month, citing staffing issues and budgetary concerns.
The majority of the town council expressed frustration with Gov. Dan McKee for not providing the funding, especially in light of the state’s more than $800 million projected budget surplus.
Boudreau argued that not having troopers on Block Island is a safety concern, citing past incidents that could’ve been prevented had there been supplemental patrols.
“I remember 2020 vividly, and I don’t want to go back there,” Boudreau said. “Without state police support, 2020 is right around the corner.”
Following the vote, Boudreau sharply criticized his fellow councilors.
“I want you guys to know, that this pretty much means there will be no state police support on the island this summer,” he said. “I hope nothing tragic happens.”
The agreement, had it been approved, would have allocated $45,000 to pay for two troopers to routinely patrol Block Island from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
In a statement to 12 News, Boudreau said he’s appalled and embarrassed.
“I have spoken to a number of worried residents and business owners who are horrified by the council’s disregard for the well-being of our police officers and concerned about the impact of a reduced police presence this summer,” Boudreau said. “This town has a long history of underfunding the police department and in the summer we need the R.I. State Police to fill shifts for which we have no full-time officers.”
“The flat-out refusal by the other members of the council to authorize this payment is equivalent to not putting gas in your car because the price has gone up,” he continued.