Ruggiero says he’s ready to fill NPPD’s top role

Ruggiero says he’s ready to fill NPPD’s top role

NORTH PROVIDENCE – As a young man first getting into law enforcement, Alfredo Ruggiero Jr., like many others, dreamed of one day returning to his hometown to lead its police department.

Ruggiero, 54 and the town’s deputy chief for the past year, said he was surprised and humbled upon hearing from Mayor Charles Lombardi that the mayor would not be running a search for a new chief and would make Ruggiero the replacement for the retiring Chief Arthur Martins when Martins leaves North Providence in June. That being the case, he said he’s definitely ready to assume the department’s top job.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said, saying he grew up in town, playing youth sports here, and is “proud to be serving the community.”

When Lombardi first hired the 26-year State Police veteran Ruggiero a year ago, he said he saw him as the perfect fit to “bring the discipline that a semi-military organization needs,” complementing Martins and his strengths. He said this week that nothing about that assessment has changed, and Ruggiero would have been right for the chief job had it been open. Ruggiero will now be given the chance to help select his own deputy chief.

Ruggiero, a former eight-year U.S. Marine, told The North Providence Breeze this week that he feels ready to lead the department after so many years of gaining experience in key areas, including working with others in a supervisory role during the latter portion of his 26 years with the State Police.

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Upon being hired in North Providence last spring, the then-State Police lieutenant said he felt he had the leadership skills, strong work ethic and communication skills suited for the job, and considered himself firm but fair.

“I will address each incident separately and look into it thoroughly before making any kind of decision,” he said this week.

He said this week that he’s all about holding people accountable, including himself.

“If I see a uniform discrepancy, I make sure my uniform is squared away,” he said. “My vehicle is always in great condition. I expect that from the rest of the agency as well.”

Appearance and professionalism are very important whether an officer is entering a coffee shop or responding to a call, he said.

“I’m very big on appearance and everything that comes with that,” he said.

When it comes to the topic of police reform, Ruggiero said he’s a big believer that if officers are following the rules and their training on the little things, not letting anything get lax, there’s far less of a chance of them taking inappropriate action when a critical moment arrives. If police are at the gun range and they’re ordered to cease fire, then every member of the agency needs to be disciplined enough to cease fire, he said. Those smaller acts of discipline and self-discipline will come into play the next time they’re approaching a home in response to an incident, he said.

Asked if he would be open to local police wearing body cameras, Ruggiero said yes.

“I think they would bring transparency throughout law enforcement,” he said. “I had them with the State Police and didn’t have any issues with them.”

He said they can be helpful to an officer in certain cases in proving or disproving the circumstances of what happened, and they’re good for training.

Ruggiero said he knows body cameras are an initiative of Rhode Island police chiefs through the Twenty for 2020 campaign, and President Joseph Biden has also said that implementing body cameras might be federally mandated, so the decision may not have to be made locally.

Asked how he’s similar to Martins, who announced his pending retirement this month for personal reasons related to his family, Ruggiero said he’s similar in that when he’s presented with a situation or problem, “it’s thought out and acted on from there instead of just making a rash decision.” The two both maintain a calm demeanor when making decisions, he said.

Ruggiero said he plans to carry out many of the community events and other initiatives Martins was planning but that were put off due to COVID-19 restrictions. Programs by school resource officers will also hopefully be beefed back up as restrictions ease, he said, and police are looking forward to getting involved again in such town events as Fourth of July fireworks or the Halloween celebration.

On what he’d like to start up that may not have been on the radar for Martins, he said he would like to bring back the NPPD’s bike unit. There are two mountain bikes at headquarters that haven’t been used in a couple of years, he said.

Ruggiero said he counts former State Police colleague and North Providence Chief David Tikoian as a close friend.

There are “a bunch of amazing men and women who work for the North Providence Police Department,” said Ruggiero, and he’s been very impressed with their attitude and the way they address calls for service. He said he looks forward to working with them and leading them.

Married to Alexandra for the past nine years, the two have two children together, a 4-year-old and 11-month-old. Ruggiero also has four children from a previous marriage.

He said he’s happy to have the opportunity to do things differently as he raises children again, saying he regrets the amount of time he spent working overtime on nights when his older children were younger. Called for an interview this week, he asked if he could call back later after getting the little ones to bed, something he later said he wouldn’t have done previously.

Ruggiero lived in North Providence until 2015, when he moved to East Greenwich. He has numerous family members still living in town.

In his spare time, he enjoys working out five days per week. “I’m an avid weightlifter, that’s my release,” he said. He also enjoys golfing and spending time with his family.

Ruggiero is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and is pursuing his master’s degree in criminal justice from Roger Williams University.

Ruggiero has said he hopes to work in North Providence for a long time.