Community policing officer Tavarozzi leads with compassion

Community policing officer Tavarozzi leads with compassion

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Like those before him, Community Police Commander Mike Tavarozzi has put his own stamp on the job, says Chief Arthur Martins, exemplifying compassion and caring in his daily interactions with town residents.

If there’s one incident that really encapsulates who Tavarozzi has been since he assumed the role more than two years ago, said Martins, it was when he took the lead in helping an elderly resident whose outdoor bathroom habits had become a neighborhood nuisance.

“Lt. Tavarozzi took that problem head-on,” he said, adding that Tavarozzi got the man counseling and new housing. This was a resident who clearly had mental health issues, said Martins, and Tavarozzi made sure to get him the help he needed.

“It wasn’t healthy for him, and it wasn’t healthy for the community,” said Martins.

That project, he said, took time and patience. If the man had been arrested, it would have been of no benefit and the problem wouldn’t have been addressed.

“It took time, but he fixed a neighborhood issue,” he said. “He got the best resolution for everybody.”

This job is never static and is always changing, said Martins, but Tavarozzi is embracing each new challenge thrown at him as part of an overall department that focuses intently on community policing as a way of life.

Martins said his first impression of Tavarozzi was of someone who “was extremely eager to learn and invested in making a difference in the community, and I’m seeing that happen.”

Each person who’s filled the role, including Diana Perez and Michel Scaramuzzo before Tavarozzi, have their own approach and points of emphasis based on what their superiors ask of them, said Martins, and Tavarozzi has done everything requested of him in molding the job around community relationships.

Tavarozzi, 38, of Smithfield, said the position is more than just a role, “it’s taking the community in and making it part of the family, interacting with people on a personal level.”

He said the one-on-one interactions with the community are the best ones.

“Seeing the pride they have, and the pride I have working with them, is special in itself,” he said.

On the way he handled the neighborhood nuisance issue, Tavarozzi said he was simply trying to approach it the way a father would in resolving a family issue. He said he couldn’t go home and rest at night knowing what the man at the center of the controversy was going through. But the resolution wasn’t immediate, he said, taking patience while building the relationship. Though he had plenty of resources at his fingertips, he said, it was a complete team effort in getting the man into an assisted living facility and eating solid meals.

“It really is the whole department,” he said. “To me being a police officer is commitment to people who really need your help in dire times.”

The community policing focus in North Providence has become part of the culture, he said, and it’s due to the total buy-in from union president Tom Jones and the other members.

“A lot of people really embraced the culture, and I think it’s phenomenal,” he said.

Tavarozzi, along with his wife and three children, are active in the community when he’s not on the job as well, working with March of Dimes and other charities and participating in activities such as hockey and dance.

A 16-year veteran of the department, he previously served as shift lieutenant and as the professional standards sergeant.

Tavarozzi is the person behind the North Providence Police Department’s social media accounts, putting out positive messages, interacting with people whenever possible to increase engagement, reassuring residents when necessary, and soliciting their help when needed. He works hand-in-hand with detectives.

All of those jobs have continued during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, and perhaps become more important.

North Providence is such a vibrant community, said Tavarozzi, and it’s satisfying to have the chance to work every day to help make it that way.

Justin Conrad, a town resident who grew up with Tavarozzi playing basketball and baseball, said he doesn’t think there’s a better person for the position.

Tavarozzi is also in charge of the town’s school resource officer program, which is one of his more satisfying duties. He said knowing the reaction his own children have when they see a police officer during their school day, he understands even more the impact officers can have on children at an early age.

“That’s so important,” he said.