NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The acting police chief of the North Providence Police Department has been suspended indefinitely with pay according to Mayor Charles Lombardi.
Christopher Pelagio had been the acting chief of the department since 2014. Lombardi told Eyewitness News on Saturday evening that he couldn’t offer details on why he decided to suspend Pelagio, citing Pelagio’s protection under the law enforcement officers bill of rights.
“This is not a criminal situation,” added Lombardi, who also said he couldn’t comment on whether the suspension would turn into a termination.
Pelagio’s time at the helm of the town’s police force has been marked with controversies.
In 2016, the highest-ranking female North Providence police officer filed a lawsuit against the department, alleging Pelagio and others discriminated against her because of her gender and created a hostile work environment. The lawsuit is still pending, despite attempted by the town to have it dismissed. The town also commissioned a report into the allegations, which concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing. At the time, Mayor Charles Lombardi said he was “relieved” but conceded he wasn’t sure how long Pelagio would stay in his role.
It was earlier in 2016 that the police union took a vote of no confidence in Pelagio, expressing frustration with his leadership.
On Saturday, union president Dennis Stone issued a statement reading in part,
Fop 13 has been concerned for quite some time in the ability of Pelagio to lead this department as evidenced in two votes of no confidence. We’ve expressed our concerns to the mayor several times but our concerns have gone unanswered. Mayor Lombardi has previously stated that the issue was that union was trying to run the police department. I truly hope the mayor now sees Pelagio’s behavior as concerning, as we have since he was put in charge of this department. The mayor has the opportunity to get this department back on track. We can only hope he makes the right choices and helps get us the leadership we so desperately seek.
Mayor Lombardi responded to Stone’s statement by saying, “the union president has got no room to talk.” Lombardi said he doesn’t believe Stone’s comments are representative of the entire union.
In June, Target 12 learned that the Cranston Police Department was conducting an internal investigation into an altercation between Pelagio and a Cranston officer back in May. At the time, Cranston police officials told Target 12 the investigation would take approximately a week.
Lombardi said Captain Charles Davey, who has been serving as the department’s acting deputy chief, is stepping into the role of acting chief during Pelagio’s suspension.