Attention, Drunk Drivers: The City of Providence Welcomes You

Kudos to NBC 10 for exposing this.

Rossignol said the officer at the scene told her that no one was available to give the other driver a breath test.
“I couldn’t believe it. And I said, ‘Well, can you get someone who is certified for a Breathalyzer?’ And he said nobody is certified right now who’s on duty,” she said.

Exactly how many officers are not certified? NBC 10 did the leg work to compare.

NBC 10 uncovered the actual number of officers certified to run Breathalyzers in communities around the state.

Warwick — 119 officers are certified or 73 percent of the force
Cranston — 95 officers are certified or about 70 percent of the force
Woonsocket — 53 officers are certified or 58 percent of the force
East Providence — 42 officers are certified or about 50 percent of the force
Pawtucket — 65 officers are certified or about 40 percent of its department

In the state’s largest city, only 20 Providence officers are certified to run Breathalyzer machines. With about 477 officers, it’s about 4 percent of the force.

Four percent. In the capital city. Charming.
It should be noted that Michael Morse over at Rescuing Providence (H/T this expose) has been squawking about this from the front line for years. Apparently, the city’s approach has been: no matter how stumbling drunk someone appears at an accident scene, pack ’em into the ambulance and dust your hands.
Let’s be clear that this is a failure of leadership (the mayor, the city council, the police chief), not of rank and file police officers to do their job.
Let’s also be clear, on a more pragmatic level, that the solution is not more money for additional f.t.e.’s – it’s getting more members of the existing force properly trained and certified.
The more I think about this, the more egregious it strikes me. Our capital city essentially has zero enforcement of d.u.i. Could this be a deliberate policy to further some terribly misguided goal, like encouraging the restaurant and night life business in the city? Nothing worse than a d.u.i. citation to dampen the enthusiasm of a potential repeat customer!

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12 years ago

“Pawtucket — 65 officers are certified or about 40 percent of its department”
Well that explains when some staggering drunk blasted through a red light and wiped out my car, he simply got a ride home in the Pawtucket police cruiser. It was a little tougher to fight the insurance company when the other guy wasn’t charged with anything and he was claiming that *I* ran the red light. A simple DUI would have made that process a lot faster and cleaner.
That’s another constituency that one would think should want more officers properly trained and certified, the auto insurance agency. Don’t they want to know when drivers are drunk? It might save them some money being able to drop some of their habitual offenders.

12 years ago

An obviously drunk driver blew a redlight and t-boned Rescue 1 (Providence) last year at ten in the morning. No DUI charges, we actually sent another rescue to transport him to the hospital. The empties were scattered all over his car and he was staggering.

12 years ago

Police are in a tough spot here. Rhode Islanders really ARE more interconnected than other people around the country. I’m sure a lot of bright-eyed police have been smacked-down for arresting their superiors’ (political or operational) kids, or their kids’ friends, or their boss’ cousin.
Also, for a city that touts its nightlife, we have amazingly poor taxi service (they’re over-regulated, in my opinion), and all public transit stops a full two hours before bars close. It would be really nice if RIPTA kept a few ‘main’ routes open for ‘one last run’ at 2:30 am.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
12 years ago

Hasn’t anyone noticed the State Police cruisers lurking near highway exits in providence over the years.They love to catch drunk drivers.And they don’t give anyone rhythm. Some years ago an FBI agent was arrested and charged with DUI;Leaving the scene of an accident with injuries;and this was in a government vehicle.He had 25 years in and was fired with no pension. The Feds have no patience with substance abuse on the job either-rehab consists of getting to look for a new job. I won’t say exceptions were never made,but not very often. i recall one case where the guy was a friend of mine and a really good agent,but he got a second chance after a real bad incident.He wound up staying out of difficulties til he retired,but I thought he should have been canned. I did know a Secret Service agent who retired and apparently had a “history”.He subsequently killed another driver while DUI and went to prison for a substantial period of time. He was a very nice man.So are a lot of drunk drivers also nice people,but nice people kill others when they get drunk and drive. Am I being holier than thou?No-when I was stationed in New Hampshire i almost got my fiancee ,myself,and a carload of other people killed by being drunk and doing a 360 on an icy road-how it didn’t wind up bad is still a mystery. That was the last straw for me.I had previously rolled a buddy’s car on a snowbank and drove it back to his house(it landed upright)with a lot of dents. he was hammered himself and didn’t care-he actually said-“I oughta make you screw my wife and you’d never wreck another one of my cars”-apparently he had a low opinion of her and was trying to get her… Read more »

12 years ago

OK, Joe wins the thread, maybe an entire year’s threads even before they are published.

12 years ago

I heard this story on the radio. The witness’s account was very disturbing. Esserman didn’t dispute it.
I hope Angel Tavares and Steven Pare hear about this event and consider it closely as they decide what to do with Esserman. My vote is that the sooner Esserman leaves, the better for all of us — including Angel Tavares.
This story reminds me of the report a year or so that the members of the Providence SWAT team resigned en masse because of some questionable action by Esserman.
In how many other areas of expertise, in which we assume the Providence Police are competent, are there no or far too few qualified officers? And this department is one or more millions of dollars over budget — great management.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
12 years ago

Bill-there are many,many good and competent police officers on PPD.They have to function in spite of Esserman.
Having been assigned with them for 4 years from 1990-94,I amstill very close with people there and I hear things.I don’t want to elaborate,but what I’ve heard for almost 8 years now hasn’t been very complimentary towards Esserman and this isn’t from one or two cranks-it’s from a lot of good,honest police officers.Men and women who are proud to serve the people of Providence.
Esserman serves himself and a little cabal or two that he cultivates.
He seems to be a very neurotic person who knows he is playacting a role he could never fill on the merits.
I wish I could say more,but I will never jeopardize those who I shared experiences with.

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