Updated: About That State Police Report on Cranston


When the Rhode Island State Police issued its report about problems in the Cranston police department, I explained in great detail why it felt so off.  I won’t repeat those details, here, but suffice to say that my objection was to the report’s bias:

The state police text purports to be an analysis of the operation and problems of the Cranston PD, but it plainly fails at that task.  It’s not a report with analysis; it’s a story with a narrative.  It’s incredibly opinionated — to the point of being one-sided — and no responsible reader should take its contents as objective, unvarnished fact.

Most of the bias had to do with incentives within the State Police, itself, but I did note that the police colonel answers to the governor, Democrat Gina Raimondo, who had narrowly won her office over Cranston’s Republican Mayor Allan Fung.  One way or another, it was a political document that set up the governor with some ammunition against a likely challenger when she sought reelection.  And sure enough, here she is during last week’s debate on WPRI:

The Rhode Island State Police issued a report, and in their words, not my words, the Rhode Island State Police said that under Mayor Fung Cranston police department was run, quote/unquote, like the mafia, and the mayor himself interfered in police business on behalf of his friends.

That is simply not true.  Oddly, the State Police department appears to have removed the report from its Web site, but for those still interested, here it is.  For some reason, some of the pages of the document cannot be searched using ctrl-F, but as well as I can tell (or remember) the only reference in the document to the “mafia” is toward the beginning in a list of anonymous quotations of things that employees of the department told the State Police during interviews, one of which is:

“The Department is run like the Mafia. You are either with them or you’re doomed.”

Two important notes:  First, this doesn’t appear to be an accusation of “public corruption,” as the governor claims, but a complaint about in groups and out groups, which is still bad, but different.  Second, the central theme of the report is that the Cranston PD had for some half century been characterized by an ongoing friction between a “team A” and a “team B.”  This quotation is likely the complaint of somebody on the team that was out of power when the State Police arrived on the scene.  This list of grievances presented as they are is just one of many reasons I urged skepticism about the report in 2015.

So, at best, Raimondo’s statement is simply false.  The Mafia comment was not the State Police’s words, but those of an anonymous person in the middle of a feud.  At worst, the State Police generated its biased report in a way favorable to the agency’s new chief executive, the governor, and now she’s being dishonest about language in that report in a political way that was predictable three years ago.

If the governor is worried about “public corruption,” perhaps she should consider how this episode makes her look.

ADDENDUM (11:28 a.m., 10/2/18)

Apparently Raimondo was setting up her next attack ad:

Pay close attention to the deceptive techniques of the ad.  All the quotations the ad pulls out are bad enough, inasmuch as they are devoid of context about who said each or what, specifically, it referred to (like the Mafia one mentioned above).  But note, too, how the quotation marks suddenly disappear so as to make the Raimondo campaign’s interpretation seem as if it came directly from the report.

So, this is how Raimondo plans to spend her millions:  Pushing one of the most dishonest, nastiest campaigns for governor we’ve seen in a long time.