On April 9, Communities United for Positive Change (CU4PC) issued a comprehensive report detailing the challenges faced by, and the resultant demands of the Pawtucket community relative to the City of Pawtucket’s Police Department.  Below are nearly 2 hours of conversation … a conversation still in progress … of community leaders about those reports. The Coalition Radio Network will continue to host Pawtucket community members every Tuesday at 8PM, in a forum designed to foster conversation, understanding, and ultimately resolution of the issues contained within.

From an earlier press release:

Communities United for Positive Change (CU4PC) is a group of Pawtucket residents and community leaders who came together in Spring 2020, after the George Floyd murder, in an effort to address city-wide concerns about accountability, transparency, racism and abuse of power within the Pawtucket Police Department. Joao Goncalves, Chairman of the Board of Cape Verdean American Community Development, which is located in Pawtucket stated, “We are a group of diverse individuals who have agreed to work together despite not all holding the same exact opinions about everything, however we are united in our desire for justice and trust that with collaboration and transparency we can build a positive path forward that serves the community at large.”

For over six months CU4PC members met with community leaders, Mayor Don Grebien and the Chief of Police/Public Safety Director Tina Goncalves to address a spectrum past and ongoing concerns about the relationship between Pawtucket Police and the local community. Including input from many residents, CU4PC compiled and presented a list of approximately 30 demands to the Mayor and Chief. Enduring long silences, miscommunication, and logistical challenges, CU4PC stuck with efforts to review and discuss each demand with the City through months of in-person and zoom meetings. Though there was some helpful dialogue and clarification that came from this process, unfortunately, several of CU4PC’s demands remain unresolved. “We took the community concerns and safety of all into consideration to avoid protests and rallies in our city. We decided to talk to the city instead in hopes to use peaceful strategy to build relationships and have the city commit to true community policing. We need to be unified now more than ever for the sake of our community and police officers”, said Khrystyne Bento of the Unity Project and RI Accountability Project.

For over six months CU4PC members met with community leaders, Mayor Don Grebien and the Chief of Police/Public Safety Director Tina Goncalves to address a spectrum past and ongoing concerns about the relationship between Pawtucket Police and the local community. Including input from many residents, CU4PC compiled and presented a list of approximately 30 demands to the Mayor and Chief. Enduring long silences, miscommunication, and logistical challenges, CU4PC stuck with efforts to review and discuss each demand with the City through months of in-person and zoom meetings. Though there was some helpful dialogue and clarification that came from this process, unfortunately, several of CU4PC’s demands remain unresolved. “We took the community concerns and safety of all into consideration to avoid protests and rallies in our city. We decided to talk to the city instead in hopes to use peaceful strategy to build relationships and have the city commit to true community policing. We need to be unified now more than ever for the sake of our community and police officers”, said Khrystyne Bento of the Unity Project and RI Accountability Project.

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CU4PC-Demands-Report-4.1.2021.docx
In a bizarre footnote to the Report’s issuance. Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien “complained” to Providence based News Site GoLocalProv, that the report issued above included “factual inaccuracies”
The Coalition  attempted to follow up with Mayor Grebien’s office, to document these inaccuracies. As was the case with GoLocalProv, Grebien’s office refused to elaborate. See the email exchange below:
Apr 21, 2021, 4:25 PM

Thank you for the follow-up Pat.

As mentioned, the City has shared with CU4PC the matrix of what we understand to be the takeaways of the many meetings and are looking to move forward with action rather than go back and forth on takeaways. We look forward to working together and engaging with our residents through the Mayor’s Community Board.

Best,
*************************************************************************************************
From: The Coalition Radio POTaxpayer
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2021 2:51 PM
To: Redacted
Subject: Re: Call earlier today

I don’t believe you answered my question. Here is a quote from a GoLocalProv piece

“Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien — despite being listed as a collaborator on the report — claims, however, it contains “factual inaccuracies.””

What specific inaccuracies are you referring to?

Regards

Pat

On Wed, Apr 21, 2021 at 2:40 PM Redacted wrote:
Hello Pat,
Let’s try this again, hopefully it will go through.
Thank you for continuing to look into this and I wanted to make sure I responded to your call from earlier.
The City is always working to foster a closer and stronger community. Pawtucket is a diverse community where the residents truly care about one another. We have seen that through the outreach and support during the COVID-19 pandemic and coming together amidst horrific acts such as the murder of George Floyd.

After the conclusion of the Derek Chauvin trial, we see that justice was served and the City of Pawtucket continues to encourage and work with its residents to strive for equity and equality to honor the memory of George Floyd.

While the City and members of law enforcement participated in a series of meetings to collaborate with CU4PC and reflect, the City was also working with many other individual residents and organizations to make sure everyone was given the opportunity to be engaged in the community.

The discussions conducted with all collaborates gave an opportunity for the groups, individuals, and City to recognize and understand each other’s roles and perspectives.

From those discussions with various community members and groups, the Mayor, Chief of Police and City Council have taken some immediate steps to ensure demonstrate commitment to the community.

The City was able to make some immediate changes, such as aligning with the RI Police Chiefs Association Twenty for 2020 and ensuring that CACD had the informational pamphlets that had been provided for residents to file complaints to show its willingness to recognize and change. The City worked correct many of the misunderstandings that exist within the community, such as APRA requests and the use of reliable interpreters in cases of an investigation. At the same time, the City was dealing with the global pandemic which raised additional health-based needs that had to be addressed in our community as well.

The City knows and understands that Pawtucket is a very diverse community with many languages represented. As a result of that knowledge, the City has hired a bi-lingual Constituent Liaison as well as a multilingual Public Health & Equity Leader to build the City’s capacity to increase the engagement in our community.

The City has also established the Mayor’s Community Board made up of diverse members of our community. This board, working through the Community Liaison, will continuously identify areas of improvement throughout the community and City Government and is set to begin meeting in May.

We recognize that outside partnerships are important. Outreach efforts with many community organizations including the Family Services GO Team that will provide victim services to the community have begun or continued.

The Pawtucket Police Department has been working in collaboration with the Nonviolence Institute for several years. Through this partnership the community has benefited as we have been able to have street workers that build relationships with the community by creating dialogue and common ground with children and young adults in order to minimize the risk of violence.

The City of Pawtucket thanks the individuals who shared their thoughts and suggestions throughout this process, especially the CU4PC group and hopes to have a positive relationship and engage them moving forward. The City has shared with CU4PC the matrix of what we understand to be the takeaways of the many meetings and are looking to move forward with action rather than go back and forth on takeaways. We will always be working to continue progress and better serve the community.

Best,

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