Smiley names 3 finalists for Providence police chief

PROVIDENCE – Three Providence Police Department majors, all of whom attended Providence public schools as children, have been named as finalists in the search for a new city police chief, Mayor Brett Smiley announced on Tuesday.

The search began at the beginning of the year after former Police Chief, Col. Hugh T. Clements decided to leave when the new mayor took office. Each of the three finalists, Kevin M. Lanni, David A. Lapatin and Oscar L. Perez, will answer community questions in a public forum on Wednesday as part of the search process, though Mayor Brett Smiley will have the final say.

“I am excited to introduce the community to three exceptional candidates who I believe exemplify we want in their next Chief of Police – a dedicated public servant that will work with the community to increase our overall public safety,” Smiley said in a statement. “I want to encourage Providence residents and community members to meet these candidates at our public forum Wednesday night.”

Like Clements, who was a longtime city patrol officer before being named chief in 2011, all three candidates for his replacement have long histories with the city police department.

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Lanni has been a member of the department for 25 years, beginning as a patrol officer with the community policing unit and rising to his current position as commanding officer of the community operations and engagement bureau. His career also included time as commanding officer of narcotics, firearms and organized crime and he led two training academies, as well as working to incorporate bias awareness and cross-cultural training into recruitment and training. He attended Providence public schools and lives in Providence.

Lapatin’s career with the Providence Police Department spans nearly four decades, beginning as a patrol officer and working his way up to commanding officer of the investigative division. He has developed “strong partnerships” with local organizations and community groups to aid in solving crimes, the city stated. A Hope High School graduate, he now lives in Cranston.

Perez has served with the department for 29 years, from patrol officer to most recently, deputy chief, where he oversees daily operations and administration. He is credited for developing the department’s community relations bureau and leading several community relations programs. An immigrant who came to Providence at age 13, he also attended high school in Providence and now lives in North Providence. 

The public forum Wednesday at the Providence Career and Technical Academy at 5:30 p.m. will be facilitated by Cedric Huntley, executive director of the Nonviolence Institute, and Mario Bueno, executive director for Progreso Latino. All three candidates will answer questions based on a bilingual survey sent to community residents.

Smiley will announce his decision on the next police chief in the days after the forum, the release stated.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at