Providence crime concerns residents and RIC students

Daniel Costa

Assistant News Editor

Photo by Kat Wilcox from Pexels

PROVIDENCE, R.I., — “I was thinking to myself, did that really just happen?” were the first words of Rhode Island College junior Kai Schutte when detailing an attempted motorcycle theft. “The old guy was just sitting there on the ground after he got sucker punched by the other guy. The dude robbing him was about to get away on the motorbike when the old guy threw him off.” Such crimes have unfortunately become a more common occurrence throughout Providence, especially to do with motor vehicles. To those who witnessed this crime along with Mr. Schutte, it sure did not help create the conception of a safe city as this occurred within view of the State House.


This particular incident ended well enough for the cause of justice; the would-be thief ran away after the driver regained control of his vehicle. Other victims of motor vehicle crimes in Providence have not been so fortunate.


After yet another homicide took place within the confines of Providence, residents of the city have begun to feel a noticeable change in the atmosphere of the city. It is not just the atmosphere. Statistics by the Providence Police Department demonstrate a noteworthy increase in crime.


Citywide, issues such as motor vehicle theft have skyrocketed, while other issues such as sex offences have so far increased by thirty one percent compared to last year. Unfortunately, the grim reminder that 2021 has yet to end means the gap between last year and the current one will widen.


The data becomes more complicated when one takes a closer look at the data by each legislative district. District 1, located in downtown Providence, largely reflects the citywide trend of a decrease in larceny, burglary, aggravated assaults and robberies. Motor vehicle theft and thefts from motor vehicles have increased, consistent with citywide figures. District 4 presents a marked contrast to District 1; motor vehicle theft, robbery, larceny and thefts from motor vehicles all increased notably so far in 2021 in comparison to 2020. Sadly, there were higher figures of crime for some other districts in the city.


Multiple factors have been attributed to the uptick in crime. The pandemic, social unrest caused by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers, an increase in gun sales and lowered police force morale have been held responsible for the violence. According to the head of Providence police, Colonel Hugh Clements, officer manpower does not even reach the “bare minimum”.


Providence police have dealt with the surging crime with increased foot patrols, a move even the police department admits may or may not reduce crime throughout the city. With police patrolling the streets of Providence, it is not out of the question that tensions between the community and police may increase in an already tense environment.


While crime may not have surged as much as Providence residents have perceived, the figures given by police are still cause for much concern. With an upcoming election for the office of mayor, the city’s spikes in crime will undoubtedly be a key issue for the candidates to address.


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