The police department will now have an Edgewood base where officers can stop in to do reports, meet with members of the community, and stay on their beat rather than returning to police headquarters.
That base is at Hall Manor, at 70 Warwick Avenue, one of the Cranston Housing Authority’s (CHA) six manors across the city, and is part of an ongoing partnership between the CHA, an independent authority funded at a federal level, the city, and the police department.
Captain Vincent McAteer said that the substation, a one-room office on the first floor of the housing building, is part of a process of decentralizing the department’s operations to become more of a “community policing” unit.
Robert Coupe, the director of the CHA, said that they paid for the office supplies, including a computer, hi-speed Internet, desks, chairs, and a mini-refrigerator, for the office. He said it was “well-worth it” for them because the police presence benefits the manors, making the residents feel safer, and it gives the police officers a place to work in the area.
There’s no set schedule for when officers will be using the office.
The computer in the office has access to the police database of records as well as a camera system, which Coupe also has in his administrative office at the Arlington Manor. That camera system covers all of the public spaces in the CHA manors across the city.
Mayor Allan Fung said that the substations would benefit the Edgewood community on a few levels.
“These are substations for officers on patrol to address issues here but also use it for other work, meetings with individuals in the neighborhood, help provide additional presence, it’s part of the community police philosophy,” he said. “It’s a partnership with housing, but it’s also getting the officers into the community to have additional interaction, doing work here as opposed to going all the way back to headquarters.”
Sergeant Jeff Chapman, who takes pride in the relationships he’s built with members of the community during his time on the police force, said that this makes it much easier for officers on the Edgewood beat to do their jobs.
“This keeps them in the community,” he said. “Officers don’t have to go across the city to file a report. They don’t have to leave their post to go to the station. It’s a win-win because we’re using the space and the housing authority gets community policing. A lot of good things can happen.”
Chapman also said that he’s running a community meeting at Hall Manor on Thursday night, which showcases the relationship that officers have built with residents there.
“When you start bringing people together, they take care of each other,” he said.
He said the access to the records will make the officers’ jobs easier, and he mentioned the “little things that people don’t think about,” like how the refrigerator could allow officers to bring their lunch in and eat healthier than they might if they were getting takeout or fast food nearby.
Coupe said that the other police substation that was built in Knightsville Manor in 2015 has garnered positive results so far, adding that the substations are meant not so much for security, but for giving officers a space to talk with residents of the Manors and residents around the area.
McAteer echoed this, saying that there aren’t usually problems at the Manors that involve police, with the few usually being domestic or narcotics issues, but the substations create a safer community for the residents.
The four men agreed that the ongoing effort to create a “community policing” department is a collaboration, which in this case is between the police department, the Cranston Housing Authority, and the city itself.