PROVIDENCE – Mayor Jorge Elorza acknowledged Friday that several high-profile acts of violence in recent months have left Providence residents fearing that crime is out of control in Providence, but he stressed that violent crime continues to be “very, very low.”
Speaking on a phone call with reporters while on a pre-planned vacation in New Hampshire, the term-limited Democrat and likely candidate for governor also said that Governor Dan McKee’s and City Council President John Igliozzi’s claims that he has refused help from the State Police were odd because city police are already working with troopers on several operations.
“These are the moments where you have to both act with urgency while at the same time be very thoughtful with the actions you take,” Elorza said.
A 24-year-old woman was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting over the weekend and a 35-year-old woman was assaulted by a group of ATV and dirt bike riders on Tuesday night, an incident that was caught on video. In May, nine people were shot in an incident that police say was gang-related on Carolina Avenue, and five people were shot on Reservoir Avenue over the weekend.
The streak of violence led McKee to offer for support from the State Police, and he has repeatedly claimed that Elorza turned down the help. But Elorza said that Providence police worked with State Police over the weekend to confiscate two ATVs.
“At the very, very least, the governor needs to be informed about what his own police department is doing,” Elorza said.
Annual statistics published by the FBI show that violent crime has been falling in Providence – and most cities around the country – for several decades, although some cities have experienced an uptick in shootings and homicides in recent years. In Providence’s case, the city has had 13 homicides in 2021, compared to just six at the same point last year, according to police department data.
The City Council is holding an emergency meeting on Tuesday with Elorza’s administration, Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare, and Col. Hugh Clements. Some councilors have called for Providence to add more police officers, and Elorza said a police academy is expected to be completed in November and other will follow.
“That is part of the solution, but it’s not the whole solution,” Elorza said, referring to an increase in officers.