Providence, R.I., Police Chief Dean Esserman walked in uniform on a local beat last Friday, a week after three of his officers were arrested in a drug sting. In the aftermath of the arrests, pundits and politicians were calling for him to resign, says the Providence Journal, but he was getting lots of support on the streets.
For the last seven years, a beefed-up internal affairs unit has prided itself on investigating and prosecuting its own. Since June 2003, when Esserman doubled the size of the unit and put a new inspector in charge, it has arrested 13 officers, fired 13, forced 8 others to resign and issued 132 disciplinary actions. In the latest case, it was the state police who found the trouble. Mayor David Cicilline expressed confidence in Esserman, but City Councilman John Lombardi, who is running for mayor, demanded the chief's resignation. Esserman came in as an outsider, into a department where fathers and sons, brothers, in-laws and cousins all work together. The Ivy-League educated New Yorker was the first non-Rhode Islander to head the state's largest police force. The department has drawn national attention for its crime-prevention initiatives.