Safety is Newport's Number One Priorty, Mayor Says

The Mayor and City Manager held a press conference on Monday to address safety in Newport.

In light of recent assault reports, including a 42-year-old woman attacked on Ruggles Avenue and a Newport Mayor Harry Winthrop and City Manager Jane Howington called a second press conference to address the public's perception of safety in Newport.

The meeting was also attended by Newport City Council members. 

“The number one priority in Newport is public safety. We will deploy whatever resources necessary,” Winthrop said.

As for added safety measures due to assault reports and rumors, Howington said that there are officers in the police department that can be moved around to diferent areas that could be hot spots for random assaults.

“If there is a hot spot and we have leads, we'll put plain clothes officers out there,” she said.

Howington said the city will also hire a public information consultant using an emergency purchase order to further communication between the city and the community.

Councilor Kathryn Leonard said she would like to see the city be proactive rather than reactionary. “I would like to see unmarked cars. . .and beat police men. I don't want to wait for another assault."

Howington added that the city is taking the recent assaults in Newport so seriously because of the growing perception that the community is unsafe. That perception has been perpetuated by social media and blogs, she said.

The community would also benefit from resurrecting the neighborhood watch mentality. “If you see something, say something,” she said.

As for added police efforts, Councilor Justin McLaughlin said the community should trust that the police department are being transparent, up to some point.

“The police department can't reveal everything,” he said.

The Newport Police Department is currently analyzing crime data to determine what, if any, if any areas in town have patterns of random assaults.

tgl October 23, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Do we really need to spend money on a person to manage police departments communication with us? Just wondering....
bimbels October 23, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Agreed, I'd much prefer that money spent on a stronger police presence.
SHS October 23, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I second spending the money on police presence instead. Specifically, foot patrol day and night. And keeping the same person(s) on foot patrol in a given neighborhood so the officer gets to know the residents (and vice versa) in that particular neighborhood. This has been proven to work in some of the worst neighborhoods out there.
Deb October 23, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Take the police off the road construction details and put them back on the streets. The construction companies can hire their own flaggers to direct the traffic around detours.
Edward M. Suggs October 23, 2012 at 05:11 PM
During all these press conferences where is the police chief? He and he alone should be fashioning a responce to these problems.
Edward M. Suggs October 23, 2012 at 05:19 PM
During the press conference where was the police chief or at least one of his (3) captains? Wouldn't they have more insight into the problem rather than some hollow reaction to this situation? Hire another do nothing person. Where is their office going to be, the lobby of the police station?
Eddie October 23, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Stop hiring outside agencies to do the job we elected/hired you for. This is why you are in office and hold this position. So you want us to pay the city manager salary and an outside agency to tell you what to do? How about learning what to do by your own research and training. I never understand this mentality. This isn't brain surgery. Have a bigger police presence. Clean up the rif-raf. What's going to happen if we don't is vigilantism ala Trevon Martin. That didn't happen so long ago. Are we that blind?
Mike Cullen October 23, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Mayor Winthrop & Son (Christian) appear to be pushing our buttons to collect votes. I attended the press conference and was underwhelmed by the proposed city action. Mayor Winthrop gave formulaic "law & order" tough talk, then put the city manager on the spot and we heard the "I'm hiring a PR temp" plan. Three councilors spoke. Then with probing questions from the media and four members of the public, the wheels began to fall off the mayor's car. Then he called the meeting to a rapid close by loudly asserting that a questioner had "a personal agenda." Since when did adjectives like "transparent, reflective, engaged, responsive, interactive, and inclusive" become obscene words for at least one City of Newport policy maker?
Chris Heaton October 23, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Raise your hand if you’re confused… how do you have a Press Conference on Public Safety with no member of Law Enforcement present? And by the decision to hire a PR person, they’re essentially admitting that it really isn’t an enforcement issue, rather a perception problem that’s grown from rumors circulating on social media and blogs. And I wonder who’s behind that? This is all just a little too convenient this close to an election. And if all members of Council were present, doesn’t that constitute a quorum? So any decision on policy that comes out of this has the unanimous support of the Council.
BL October 23, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Their solution is to patrol the hot spots? Rhode Island is so dumb... Every part of Newport is a hotspot, it just depends on the timing. I walked home last night from Memorial to Spring, not even 2 blocks to my front door and walked past 3 Broadway bums. They have feet, they will walk to any hotspot. We need police WALKING the streets. Get off their bottoms, and walk. Show that there is a presence waiting for things to happen...maybe it will scare them from attacking.
Jack October 23, 2012 at 08:34 PM
And how much training in Law Enforsement has our City Manager had seeing how she and the council will be telling the Chief how to do his job......and some other consultant will be telling us how wonderful he is at it
ms October 23, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Why u blame the bums its the kids who wanna be
Chmn October 23, 2012 at 11:36 PM
This whole controversy sounds alot like chicken little. Anyone out there how much this consultant is getting paid? Furthermore, the city should reduce the number of police standing around on construction jobs (with their thumbs you know where getting paid $50/hr) we might have a force looking for the social dead beats that have embedded themselves in Newport.
Tom October 24, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Betchya Harry has a cousin that can do this new job.
Deb October 24, 2012 at 01:16 AM
The city manager can't do her job so she needs to pay a consultant to do it. The police can't do their job because their to busy babysitting road construction jobs. The mayor holds a press conference about safety without the police being present. This town is so screwed up ! The police reports have been filed, do your own jobs and read them, they are not rumors ! If the city wants to spent more money they should spend it on one-way bus tickets out of Newport for the criminals.
christopher rogers October 24, 2012 at 03:21 AM
This is so terrible what is happening in newport. I don't believe the city manager has been out for a walk at night! With halloween right around the corner I am concerned for the safety of my children! The citizens of newport also have to be proactive. We have become a numb society with the attitude of looking the other way because we don't want to get involved.. If you see something that looks shady call it in! And yes I agree we should have police out walking a beat. And not downtown either.. With in a mile of the police station is the worst!
Jim October 24, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Quite honestly the town is turning into a dump. Put a little more lipstick on the pig why don't we!?
Jim October 24, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Eddie you hit the nail on the head!
frank macedo October 24, 2012 at 02:35 PM
if city manager has to hire outside firm to do the job she suppose to know how to do ,why are we paying her? she is no different than the rest of the scumbags in the management positions at city hall a bunch of pay-check theives and we the people need to start thinking about getting rid of the dead weight at cityhall like the crooked asses in the HR department ,Public utilities etc. then we can hire the people we need to prevent the little punks from terrorizing our city
bimbels October 24, 2012 at 03:22 PM
This whole notion of hiring a PR firm makes me angrier the more I think about it. This town cries poor every day but we have money for that? I want to know whose decision it was to hire someone, so I'll know who NOT to vote for. Chris Heaton hit the nail on the head - by hiring a PR person the town is saying that it's a PERCEPTION problem - it's not real. i find that insulting.
Mike Farley October 24, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Perception may be an issue, but we should also focus on substance. Let's set a goal of reducing the violent crime rate by 10% over the next term. Any ideas out there? Curfew? More foot patrols?
Island Porkrunner October 24, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Just read this: "The Justice Department disclosed that the rate of violent crime in the United States increased last year for the first time since 1993." A Public relations consultant is not going to stop violent crimes from occurring.
Mike Cullen October 24, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Mike Farley is right. You have to manage perception and reality/substance. The media is shaping perception and a negative perception hurts all. The reality/substance can be debated for months, but why not simply take your own view of reality and type up some steps to help the police and the broader community reduce the violent crime rate by 10% over the next two years? What could we do to raise the performance bar? Let's hear some specifics.
mike homer October 24, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Car patrol eliminated the neighborhood police officer. Police were pulled off neighborhood beats to fill cars. But motorized patrol — the cornerstone of urban policing — has no effect on crime rates, victimization, or public satisfaction. Lawrence Sherman was an early critic of telephone dispatch and motorized patrol, noted, "The rise of telephone dispatch transformed both the method and purpose of patrol. Instead of watching to prevent crime, motorized police patrol became a process of merely waiting to respond to crime."
Lmw October 24, 2012 at 07:27 PM
We can come up with great, specific ideas to fix the crime problem, but before that let's look at the cause of the problem.....public housing is on the rise as is the crime rate. Why does newport put up with the low lifes put here by the state? Are we that greedy for the aid? Newport is going to lose its tourism dollars not to mention quality residents who don't want to be here anymore.....
Jack October 24, 2012 at 07:42 PM
First to include those on roadside details is wrong as most of them are retired officers and are paid by the contractor to handle traffic......Next by having a press conference because of 4 or 5 UNRELATED assaults has allowed Newport's image to be sullied through out the country as it becomes a AP news story and is used as fill in papers all over the US..... This has to be one of the dumbest things the City Council has ever done, we spend thousands on adds for tourists trying to attract them and then in 10 minutes drive them all away with this bull.....if a consultant is needed it is in the Council Chambers not the Police Station
frank macedo October 25, 2012 at 04:02 PM
get rid of the special council members and mayor who called special meeting without input from total city council. it looks like the same group mthat screwed Jeanne Napolitano out of her rightful mayoral seat, Im sur we can find 3or 4 more trust worthy people to replace the mighty 4
The count December 27, 2012 at 05:34 PM
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