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RI police leaders join national FBI call on potential threats after DC riot

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The leaders of the state’s two largest police agencies were part of a conference call Wednesday with the director of the FBI, where the federal agency urged vigilance against possible acts of violence in the wake of last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol.

R.I. State Police Col. James Manni and Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements both said on Thursday that they have not received any credible evidence of potential violence in Rhode Island, but said their agencies are sharing intelligence with federal law enforcement through the state’s Fusion Center. 

“Recent events, including last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol, have raised concerns about security across our country,” Manni said in a statement. “The Rhode Island State Police is prepared to address any risks to public safety and meet any security challenges that could develop.”

Beginning Friday, state troopers will be positioned around the clock at the Rhode Island State House as a security detail until after the inauguration.

Clements said FBI Director Christopher Wray implored local police agencies to share any information they receive after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters.

“This is something we learned after 9/11,” Clements said. “There can’t be enough sharing of information up or down.”

Outside the home of Congressman David Cicilline, a Providence police detail has been keeping watch around the clock. Cicilline was one of the co-drafters of the article of impeachment against Trump the House passed on Wednesday. His office has previously confirmed to 12 News that the congressman has been receiving death threats because of his leading role in the process.

“We’re keeping eyes on our federal officials who are actively involved in the conversation nationally to ensure their security and safety,” Clements said.

On Wednesday, members of the R.I. Division of Sheriffs could be seen walking through the Veterans Memorial Auditorium alongside Frank Montanaro Jr., head of the Joint Committee on Legislative Services, the General Assembly’s administrative arm.

Larry Berman, a spokesperson for R.I. House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi, confirmed they were conducting “a security evaluation and assessment for future sessions at the Vets,” where the House is holding hearings during the pandemic. The same was happening across the city at Rhode Island College, where the state Senate is meeting, Berman said.

“We have been in communication with R.I. State Police Col. Manni and senior leadership of the Rhode Island Capitol Police and have discussed an increased security presence at the State House and at our temporary legislative meeting sites of the Veterans Auditorium and Rhode Island College,” Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio said in a joint statement. “They are taking all necessary precautions to keep legislators and staff safe.” =

Ruggerio and Shekarchi previously had all legislative employees work from home last Thursday, the day after the attack in Washington, out of an abundance of caution after discussions with state police leadership.

Law enforcement across the country has been on high alert since the riots at the Capitol, even after President Trump released a taped message on Wednesday – one week after the chaos – urging his supporters not to take part in “political violence.”

The Rhode Island National Guard is set to deploy 75 active members to Washington ahead of the inauguration to assist in the increased level of security, according to Adjutant Gen. Christopher Callahan. He said they are prepared to provide additional security at the state house if called on by Colonel Manni.

“The short answer is, I anticipate it,” Callahan said.

Members of the Massachusetts National Guard are also being sent to Washington to help.

On Thursday Joseph Bonavolonta, the head of the Boston office of the FBI, urged members of the public to pass along any tips to local FBI field offices or by visiting tips.fbi.gov. The Boston office covers Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine.

“So much of what we do is rely on tips from the public,” Bonavolonta said. “There has been in excess of 100,000 digital media tips that we have received and we’re analyzing.”

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter at 12 News, and the host of Newsmakers. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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