PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Providence police internal investigation involving an officer who was placed on administrative leave is focused on a probe into stolen tires and rims, with the officer under scrutiny for allegedly running plates for non-police matters, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
Patrolman James Lewis was placed on administrative leave with pay Friday afternoon, according to Chief Hugh Clements.
“We hope to learn more shortly,” Clements said.
Neither Col. Clements nor Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré would comment on what the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility is investigating, citing Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBOR) restrictions.
Michael Imondi, president of the Providence Fraternal Order of Police, declined to comment, saying in a text, “the FOP is not at liberty to discuss or identify any members or their status which may or may not be involved in any ongoing investigation.”
Police sources tell Target 12 Lewis is under investigation for allegedly running license plates for non-police matters, possibly in connection with thefts of vehicle tires and rims.
Sources also said the computer in Lewis’s police cruiser and his phone are being examined by investigators.
As Target 12 previously reported, Providence police have been investigating several cases of stolen rims and tires in recent years.
East Providence police seized a stash of about 150 tires and rims, worth an estimated $80,000, that were discovered March 31 by the city’s fire department on an alarm call to 912 Broadway.
East Providence Police Lt. Raymond Blinn would not comment on whether or not the Providence case is connected to his department’s investigation.
Neither Clements nor Paré would comment on whether the Providence internal affairs case is connected to any external investigations.
Lewis is a graduate of the 2014 recruitment class, which was considered one of the most diverse group of recruits in department history.
The class was also clouded by controversy from a number of incidents right after the rookies graduated.
One case involved David Sanchez, who finished the academy and was sworn in, but the department opted against hiring him after investigators claimed he was found with pieces of a cell phone, allegedly stolen by his girlfriend.
Eyewitness News will have more details on this developing story tonight.
Tim White contributed to this report.