EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. — East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva picked a 21-year department veteran to serve as the new police chief, the city said Monday.
Christopher Francesconi, who’s been serving as the acting police chief since the departure of his predecessor a few weeks ago, has been deputy chief since May 2019. He joined the force in 2000.
“The men and women of this agency are some of the finest law enforcement officers in the region. I look forward to leading them as we seek out new and innovative ways to consistently deliver the best police service to the East Providence community,” Francesconi said in a written statement.
He will replace William Nebus, who retired earlier this month after tensions with DaSilva. As part of his separation, Nebus and DaSilva signed a mutual non-disparagement agreement. They agreed not to make any statement “which reasonably could be construed to be derogatory or disparaging” about Nebus, the city, DaSilva or members of his administration.
DaSilva said he didn’t request the non-disparagement agreement. Nebus’ predecessor did not sign a non-disparagement agreement. The city said it was “standard practice” in cases where someone doesn’t have a prior existing employment contract. Nebus declined to comment.
Ray Blinn, a former high-ranking East Providence police official, wrote in a Facebook post last month of Nebus: “During his time as Chief, despite the problems law enforcement has been dealing with, much of his time was spent fighting this Mayor and protecting this amazing, but tired, department.” Blinn said the mayor was “disrespectful” of Nebus, echoing the private comments from Nebus’ allies that he was left out of decisions.
DaSilva is a former Pawtucket police officer. DaSilva congratulated Nebus on his retirement from an “excellent career” on his Facebook page.
East Providence’s police department has 110 sworn and non-sworn members, according to the city. DaSilva’s administration said Francesconi will have five goals: gain accreditation from the Rhode Island Police Accreditation Commission, which 31 other agencies in Rhode Island have but East Providence does not; focus on recruitment and retainment; implement body cameras “without delay”; redouble efforts to do community outreach; and boost morale.
Francesconi’s time in the department has included stints as an investigator in the Vice Unit, a task force agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, the team leader of the Special Reaction Team, and sergeant in the Office of Professional Standards. He later led the Services and Patrol divisions. He has a master of science degree in administration of justice and homeland security from Salve Regina University and a bachelor of science in criminal justice from Saint Anselm College, the city said.
“I have had the opportunity to work Chief Christopher Francesconi over the last three years and am impressed by his leadership and long list of goals he has for this Police Department, which is why I could not be happier to announce that I have appointed him as Chief of the East Providence Police Department,” DaSilva said in a written statement.
The appointment of Francesconi will be welcome news to the union representing East Providence police officers, which had said that his replacement should come from within the ranks.
“He’s a good guy,” Patrick Kelley, an officer and the president of IBPO Local 569, said of Francesconi on Monday. “I think he’s the right guy.”
Francesconi will become the department’s 15th chief, by his accounting.
“I will work tirelessly to keep our community as safe as possible, and maintain the strong bond my predecessors worked so hard to build with our citizens,” he said.
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that William Nebus retired this month. He did not resign.