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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence’s mayor and police union president are lobbying for a new police academy to start in the fall.

Mayor Brett Smiley’s $586 million budget proposal would increase police department funding from $100 million to $108 million, and also includes funding for a second academy in October.

“There were a lot of very skeptical questions from council people about why do we need another police academy and I’m concerned that the council might be considering punting on that decision, which I think would be a wrong decision for Providence,” Smiley explained.

A police academy with 30 recruits is underway and ends in August.

Michael Imondi, president of the Providence Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3, told 12 News another academy this year is needed to bring the department’s staffing up to necessary levels.

“At the staffing levels we’re at now, you have to cut back on everything because patrol and detectives is where it’s at,” Imondi said. “We need to fill the uniformed bodies first to fill the cars to give the public the safety they need and be able to respond to calls in a timely manner.”

Parker Gavigan, a spokesperson for the Providence City Council, said in a statement that members have not publicly commented on changing the mayor’s budget proposal.

“The finance committee met again last night to hear more budget testimony,” Gavigan said. “It would be prudent to let that process play out and comment at the appropriate time.”

Council President Rachel Miller was unavailable for comment after a meeting Thursday night.

According to Imondi, the department received four transfers from other municipalities, but that is a “drop in the bucket” in the context of how many more officers are needed. He said there are fewer than 400 officers in the department, which can employ up to 494 if they have the funding.

“And then you have to have the amount of detectives behind that to investigate the crimes in a timely manner, which right now we are lacking in both,” Imondi added.

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