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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Council Leader Vows Veto Override on Police Oversight Board

 Attorney to be Hired to Fight Mayor's Court Challenge

The recent veto by Mayor David Cicilline to scrap reform of the Providence External Review Authority, the civilian review board created by the Providence City Council to investigate complaints against the police, will likely be overridden at a special meeting of the council this Thursday, according to City Council Majority Leader Terrence M. Hassett.

Hassett said there is strong support on the council for the reforms written by a special council commission created to examine and re-write the ordinance that initially created the civilian board.  That support continues as strong as ever.

According to Hassett, a resolution will also be offered by the council leadership that will seek authorization of the council to engage legal services to defend a lawsuit by the mayor seeking to overturn the ordinance.  Last week, the city solicitor filed suit in Superior Court on behalf of the mayor.

“The council takes the matter very seriously,” Hassett stated.  “Oversight of the police department by a board comprised of Providence citizens that are independent and separate from the executive department and the police department is good public policy.  It encourages public trust in our government which has waned over time.”

Hassett said that Councilmen Seth Yurdin and Miguel Luna sponsored the ordinance changes and shepherded it through the council.  He noted that a special council commission was established and met regularly to discuss the needed reforms of the civilian board before recommending the amended ordinance to the full City Council.  The council approved the reforms in late January.  The mayor vetoed the reforms last Friday.

“Councilmen Yurdin and Luna did an excellent job in spearheading this effort,” Hassett said.

“This board was created in 2002,” Hassett noted.  “The changes approved last month are intended to improve efficiency – not trade in the independence of PERA.  The mayor’s veto and lawsuit are dangerous moves that have raised serious questions and must be challenged.”