Local News, News, Providence

Police shoot two suspects in Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence Police shot two suspects on Branch Avenue after a short chase in the city, Col. Hugh Clements said Friday.

The officer-involved shooting happened shortly before 10 p.m., Clements said, after police spotted a vehicle that matched the description of two suspects wanted in Bristol. Clements said a deceased person had been found in Bristol earlier Friday.

One man and one woman were shot by police, Clements said. Both suspects were transported to Rhode Island Hospital. The man was more seriously injured than the woman, and both were still alive as of late Friday night.

Two police officers were also transported to the hospital with minor leg injuries.

The situation in Providence began when police spotted the vehicle that Bristol police had told them was connected to the investigation there. The chase lasted less than a mile before shots were fired. Col. Clements said police are still investigating whether the suspects fired at officers.

The suspects’ car appeared to have crashed, and was surrounded by Providence police cruisers on the scene. The back window of the suspects’ car was smashed. Clements said the male suspect was driving, and would not say if the suspects got out of the car at any point.

He said at least one officer fired at the suspects, and it was unclear if others had also fired. Police were in the early stages of the investigation at the time of the interview.

Rhode Island State Police responded to the scene to assist Providence Police, in accordance with state protocol for an officer-involved shooting. Bristol Police officers also arrived on the scene about an hour after the shooting.

Providence police officers remained at the scene Saturday morning, and Clements said that he did not yet have any update on the condition of the two pepole who were shot.


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Local News, News, Providence

Col. O’Donnell reflects on decades-long law enforcement career after announcing retirement

[anvplayer video=”1082645″] SCITUATE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Col. Steven O’Donnell says he’s been told by law enforcement colleagues across the country that when it was time to retire, he would “just feel it.” Thursday, he took the leap and sent a letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo informing her he would be retiring as the leader of the State Police and as commissioner of the R.I. Department of Public Safety, effective Sept. 23.

“There’s no reason,” he said in an interview with Eyewitness News. “I just felt it…I went from maybe 100 miles-per-hour to maybe 95, I thought. Nobody noticed, but I felt it. And I thought, I just want to be fully engaged.”

“I have come to a crossroads in my life and career,” he wrote in his retirement letter to Gov. Raimondo.

O’Donnell, who is 56, began his career with the state police in 1986, after stints with the North Kingstown Police and as a correctional officer. He did undercover work for years, at one point posing as a Providence Journal employee, and infiltrated the mob. He was honored by President Bill Clinton in 1995 as one of ten law enforcement officers to receive the “Top Cop” award.

“I’ll miss chasing wise guys,” O’Donnell said. “I loved doing that. I loved the chase. I loved the wire taps, and the bugs, and the craftiness, and trying to beat them at their own game.”

O’Donnell was appointed by President Barack Obama as U.S. Marshal for Rhode Island in 2009, and then in 2011 he was appointed by then Gov. Lincoln Chafee to be the Superintendent of the R.I. State Police. Gov. Raimondo re-appointed him when she took office in 2014.

Web Extra: O’Donnell reflects on time as Superintendent of RI State Police »
Web Extra: O’Donnell reflects on time as Superintendent of RI State Police »

But when asked about his greatest success Thursday, Col. O’Donnell didn’t name any of those accomplishments.

“I’m married, and I have three kids,” he said. “That’s pretty successful in this business.” O’Donnell has three sons, including one who works for the state police. His family had an impact on his decision to retire, as well. “My wife said to me…’when are you going to think about you?'”

When it comes to what he didn’t get to accomplish, O’Donnell referenced the relative lack of racial and gender diversity in the state police. A recent review of data showed more than 87 percent of the force is white, and more than 92 percent is male.

“I would love to have another recruit class, take another shot at diversifying the state police better,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said he doesn’t have a new job lined up, but he started putting feelers out in the last day or so. He said he’ll be looking for something soon in the private or public sector.

His passion for policing was evident as he spoke about the job he is leaving.

“It’s everything,” he said. “It’s just this outstanding uniform and stetson…it’s appearance, but what it represents is so powerful. It represents 91 years of men, women who decided to do this and serve the people of Rhode Island. Some of them lost their life doing it.”

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