Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 09-11-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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20 NORTH PROVIDENCE PUBLIC SAFETY COMPLEX SEPTEMBER 11-17, 2019 | NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION NORTH PROVIDENCE – The new North Providence Public Safety Complex at 1835 Mineral Spring Ave. is far more efficient and user friendly, according to Police Chief David Tikoian, especially when compared to the department's for- mer headquarters in the basement of Town Hall decades ago. Retired Capt. James Cerep, who joined the 29-member North Providence Police Department in 1970, remembers the basement office as cramped and "lacking a lot of things," he told The Breeze. Now the new 58,000-square-foot facility, split between the police and fire depart- ments, provides more space for police, whose complement is 66 with 30 to 40 officers on the road, Tikoian said. It's "a facility that can really ser- vice" the town. As the town of North Providence and its Police Department have grown over the years, so too has the equipment and technology officers use, especially in the 21st century. "I'm amazed at the equipment they have now," said Cerep, of Raynham, Mass., noting especially DNA profiling and its role in helping crack cases. "If (we) had the technol- ogy they have today to solve crimes, we would have solved everything on the books." The basement, he recalls, was tight, there were only three cell blocks, and the chief's office was located on the third floor of the building. Ret. Det. Sgt. Anthony Tudino, of North Providence, who worked for NPPD from 1964 to 1984, agreed that the space was over- crowded, even when there were only 17 officers in the department. They had no walkie talkies and they had two air conditioner-less cars, secondhand from other depart- ments. With only three cell blocks, Tudino said, sometimes they brought in too many prisoners and had to transport them to Johnston. In those days, officers often had walking beats. For a year and a half, six days a week, no matter the weather, Tudino patrolled the streets of Marieville and Centredale on foot. "The walking beat was terrible," Tudino said. "It started to take its toll." When he first joined the depart- ment, Cerep said he didn't see the inside of a police cruiser for a year. He, too, used to walk Centredale, checking on a pool hall, bars, and a movie theater. "We were very vulnerable," he said. In the early 1970s, there were no portable radios, Cerep said. "Once you were in your cruiser and out on patrol, there was no way of com- municating back to the station unless you went back to the car," he said. There were no permanent fire- fighters in 1970, and the Police Department was responsible for dis- patching all firetrucks and rescue vehicles, Cerep said. Officers had mini- mal equipment and no bullet-proof vests, he said. "Nothing like they have today … I retired without ever wearing a vest. In 1990, when I left, they were coming into vogue." Officers carried whatever weapons they qualified with, he said, so they weren't consistent, which was an issue because people weren't carry- ing the same ammunition. He said it was a dangerous situation and every- body should do as they do now and have the same weapons. When police moved to their next building at 1967 Mineral Spring Ave., the one that the department has left for the new safety complex, "It was a blessing," Tudino said. The new facility offered more room and updated technology, including walkie talkies for officers, he said. The new station in the mid-1970s had a good design, Cerep said, but one flaw was that it didn't account for growth of the department. "That was the problem when we got there," Cerep said. When they started adding more people, desks were pressed up against desks. "You didn't have your own space," he said. "It got small." Today's new safety complex, by contrast, is bigger and is user-friendly for both staff and members of the community. Residents can come to the station for fin- gerprinting – without having to go into the cell block like in the old station – and also make online reports about neighborhood nuisances and minor issues if they want, Tikoian said. The locker rooms in the new facility are improved and able to accommo- date all of the gear modern-day police officers have, he said. "There's so much equipment that they have in 2019 that they didn't have back in those days," he said. An evidence and property room is very secure with three levels of secu- rity with biometrics involved, he said, and there's a much larger workspace area in the case of a capital offense. Witnesses, victims, and suspects can be separated for co-current interviews, whereas before there was a very small, makeshift area where those interviews were held, he said. The police and fire dispatch centers will now be right next to one another so folks can communicate with each other face-to-face, which will be help- ful since nine times out of 10 if a fire- truck is dispatched, police are being dispatched as well, Tikoian said. While there's plenty of excitement around the new complex, Tikoian said he expects there will be some hiccups as everyone begins to get settled. "Things aren't going to be perfect," he said. "We'll have to make adjust- ments." Retired police recall department's humble beginnings By MELANIE THIBEAULT Valley Breeze Staff Writer CEREP TUDINO TIKOIAN 1565 Douglas Avenue, North Providence, RI 401-353-5555 Fax: 401-353-4807 Douglas Apartments All housing intended for persons 55 and over. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. & Sat. & Sun. by appointment on your New Home from Our Home! Thank You for All You Do!

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