Feb. 28, 2018
For questions or more information, contact: Vanessa Flores-Maldonado, (617) 817-7966
On Monday, February 26th, a Special Meeting was called by CIty Council for the nomination of eight members to the Providence External Review Authority (PERA) board. Under current PERA regulations, the nine-member board will be appointed through City Council, with one nomination reserved to the City Council President and the 9th nomination reserved to the Providence City Mayor. Under the Providence Community Police Relations Act (PCPRA, or locally known as the Community Safety Act), PERA will be tasked with overseeing misconduct investigations of city police and the ability to review and make recommendations on union contracts
As members of the STEP UP Coalition that worked to pass the PCPRA, and whose members had previously fought to establish PERA, we are disappointed with the process so far in reconstituting the PERA board. Considering the amount of community input that has been present and centered in this process so far, we expected to have our input still valued and respected in the reconstitution of the PERA board. We sought to have a board that was made up of Providence community members directly impacted by police misconduct as well as youth who are targeted by police
The nominations submitted do not reflect that. Additionally, we are perplexed by the inclusion of non-Providence residents in this list. One of the requirements on the application form for the PERA board included residency in Providence. Yet, three of the names on the list are not Providence residents.
Given the composition of the board, City Council President Salvatore is proving that he is trying to undermine PERA, and by extension the CSA. He has appointed a former head of the police union and a correctional officer and the appointment of Susan Derita raises even more concerns. Her donations to Salvatore indicate a clear conflict of interest. Derita has also established a reputation as a relentless police zealot in the Elmhurst neighborhood crimewatch, proudly broadcasting her strong relationship with the Providence Police Department while promoting racial profiling. Her pro-police and racial profiling bias makes her an unsuitable candidate for the PERA board. While there already exists a system to deal with police misconduct within the police department, made up of law enforcement officers, PERA is intended to be an alternative to having this pro-police bias.
We ask that the City Council invite us to the table in establishing the PERA board. Shutting community input out in this process will not only be a blow to community morale, but also show the City’s true alliance to the Police Department and not its residents. In creating police accountability, we cannot center the concerns of the police any longer. We must start focusing on what the community needs.