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Providence police resist the appointment of new police major

September 7, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Providence police organizations are questioning Mayor Jorge O. Elorza’s judgment after he hired a civilian with no experience in law enforcement to be the city’s first-ever police major instead of considering the Black officers that applied for the position.

Elorza chose Michael Stephens, who has no experience in law enforcement, aside from graduating from the citizens academy in 2016. Stephens was a recreation director and NCAA referee before his appointment as police major, The Boston Globe reported.

The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers Chairman Charles Wilson said the mayor’s decision in appointing a civilian without experience over qualified Black law enforcement officers was demeaning. Stephens is also Black.

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Stephens will manage oversight on police training and be responsible for the recruitment and training of police recruits.

According to Wilson, three Black officers applied for the major’s position. The mayor chose Elorza instead.

Providence City Council President John Igliozzi proposed that the mayor change the job title from police major to public safety community-police liaison because of the backlash from the police organizations.

Elorza did not respond to Igliozzi’s suggestion on Friday and he did not answer any questions about his decision.