Annual report: Few complaints of officer misconduct

Annual report: Few complaints of officer misconduct

NORTH PROVIDENCE – For a second straight year, the North Providence Police Department had far fewer complaints about officer misconduct than what would be expected for a department handling as many incidents as it does, says Chief David Tikoian.

“As an organization, we are pleased to learn the North Providence Police Office of Professional Standards has received only 12 complaints regarding allegations of officer-perceived misconduct,” said Tikoian in announcing the report. “(Though) the goal is to receive zero complaints, this number is extremely small considering that our officers have had 43,062 documented calls for service.”

The resulting ratio of complaints to contact is less than .03 percent, Tikoian emphasized. Of the 12 complaints, fewer than a quarter of them were sustained. That statistical analysis “supports the professional behavior exhibited by our members on a daily basis,” he said. “This is consistent with my philosophy of officers treating people with courtesy, dignity and respect.”

Of the 12 complaints, two were found to be justified, six were unsubstantiated, and another four are still pending. The two requiring discipline were in the complaint categories of unprofessional behavior and job performance.

The number of complaints against officers in 2017 was also 12, with five of those (two for unprofessional behavior, two for neglect of duty and one, an informal complaint) found to be substantiated. Seven were unsubstantiated, according to the 2017 report. All 30 use of force investigations in the North Providence Police Department were also found to be justified in 2018.

The 2018 report on the department shows “transformational, professional leadership” and a new direction that will continue in 2019, says Tikoian, as part of his effort at greater transparency.

The second such report since Tikoian became chief in 2017 noted that police responded to 43,000 calls for service, completed 1,451 arrests, including 360 for felonies, issued 5,022 motor vehicle violations and completed 1,067 crash reports.

Working with elected officials, educators and residents, the department’s goal is to provide the most professional law enforcement services possible to the town, said Tikoian.

The Office of Professional Standards is led by Lt. Diana Perez, a 15-year veteran who reports directly to Tikoian. Perez is responsible for receiving, processing and investigating complaints made against department employees, ensuring that there is a system in place creating a sense of confidence on the part of citizens that their complaints will be taken seriously and properly investigated, and corrective measures taken when needed.

Perez is the officer who previously leveled sexual harassment accusations against former Chief Chris Pelagio and other members of the department. That matter is still pending.

The crime rate continues to decrease in the town, with an overall decrease of about 5 percent in 2018, following a decrease of 16 percent in 2017.

Tikoian said he originally pledged to become part of the fabric of the town by being accessible and visible within the community. As a strong proponent of community outreach, he said he believes in engaging with students, seniors, the business community, residents and faith-based organizations, “which are all integral parts to building trust, confidence, mutual respect and transparency between the department and the public.”

Publishing an annual report fosters transparency and accountability that the public seeks from police, he said.

The 2018 Annual Report provides an overview of the department, including statistical information, department structural organization, budgetary data, community outreach initiatives and recent accomplishments, as well as projected goals.

It states that the department’s annual budget was $6.2 million in 2018, about $200,000 less than the previous year.

“The agency has exercised fiscal responsibility, limiting operating expenses to just over $800,000, or approximately 13 percent of the total annual budget,” said Tikoian.

Also included in the annual report is a progress update on the new public safety complex being built at 1834 Mineral Spring Ave.

“The new, state-of-the-art, 56,000-square-foot facility, with a total estimated cost of $28 million, is expected to be completed during the summer/fall of 2019,” states Tikoian in the report. “The project is being financed with federal forfeiture funds that have been awarded to the department.

The chief said these are exciting times for his department.

The public may access an electronic version of the annual report by visiting www.nppolice.com and clicking on the information tab.