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Oscar Perez, a Latino man wearing a white officer's uniform and black cap. Behind him is an American flag.
Photo courtesy of the City of Providence

Providence has its first-ever Latino Chief of Police

Following an extensive search and multiple tests, Oscar Perez was recently chosen to serve as the city’s next chief of police.

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The City of Providence, Rhode Island Police Department has a new Chief of Police: Oscar Perez, serving as the city's 38th Chief of Police and the first-ever Latino to hold the position. 

This is a significant development for the city, as Latinos comprise 43% of the population of Providence.

Perez joins the office as his predecessor Colonel Hugh T. Clements Jr. departed the office — having been the City's longest serving Chief of Police — to join the U.S. Department of Justice.

Born in Medellín, Colombia, Perez has been a member of the Providence Police Department for 29 years, beginning as a Patrol Officer to his latest position as Deputy Chief, where he oversaw daily operations and the enactment of all police functions and services of the Providence Police Department.

“Throughout his nearly 30-year tenure and certainly in this interview process, Chief Perez has demonstrated he is the dedicated public servant that can foster strong relationships within the community and is [laser focused] on the quality-of-life issues our residents identified as top priorities for the next Chief,” said Providence Mayor Brett Smiley in a statement.

“I am excited for the work we will do together to make Providence safer for our residents, businesses and visitors,” he continued.

During Perez's tenure as a member of the Providence Police Department, he acted as District Commander for South Providence, developing the PPD's Community Relations Bureau, implemented a community policing bureau policy across the department, and has spearheaded multiple police-community relations initiatives.

He was chosen to his current role as Police Chief after a public search process involving a screening, interviews with the mayor, and participation in a public forum that occurred on Feb. 8, with finalists being asked moderated questions by Providence residents, community members, and businesses.

Perez earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Roger Williams University and his Master's degree in criminal justice from Boston University.

His experience also includes working in the Youth Services Bureau as a detective in 2001, and later overseeing patrols in multiple neighborhoods.

Other divisions of police work he has been involved with include the department's bureau of intelligence, narcotics and organized crime, gang intervention, community policing, and on the Neighborhood Response Team.

“Serving as Chief of Police for the city that welcomed me so many years ago and that has become my home is the honor of a lifetime,” said Chief Oscar Perez. “I am excited to give back to my community, to work with my colleagues in uniform to provide them with the proper training and resources, supporting our officers’ health and wellness, and to get to work on the big issues- decreasing gun violence, preventing crimes, supporting our youth and improving the quality-of-life in our city.”

Perez has said his first acts as Chief of Police are to meet with the city's police and community leaders to listen to them and their needs as he moves forwards. Other decisions, such as who will become the department's next deputy chief will also be made as he manages the responsibilities of his new position.

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