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Providence’s Most Dangerous Neighborhoods

Friday, December 13, 2013


Violence in Providence is concentrated in a few key neighborhoods according to this year's crime data. But those numbers bely the human toll felt in communities.

In June, a gang shooting at public housing in Hartford Park killed a 12-year-old girl, Aynis Vargas. Three other bystanders were shot. Police arrested five individuals involved in the shooting, including one juvenile.

“When you have 9-year-old, 10-year-old kids getting arrested with guns, it's sad,” said Ward 4 councilman Nicholas Narducci Jr. “If they had other things to do they wouldn't be on the streets.”

There have been 14 homicides in Providence this year to date, with more than half of those occurring in just two of nine police districts, covering the city's south and west ends.

The city declared its fourteenth homicide just yesterday, following an investigation into the November death of 78-year old Delor M. Cabral. This homicide was a result of a violent home invasion and brutal beating by two Providence men in the city's Elmwood neighborhood. 

Crime citywide

In the latest crime comparison report provided by the department, through December 8, most violent crimes were down over 2012, a year that saw 17 homicides. (That number was 12 in 2011.)

Citywide, the number of forcible sex offenses is down 21 percent this year, while the number of robberies with a firearm is down 20 percent. Other robberies are up over last year by 11 percent, however, and aggravated assaults with a firearm are up 13 percent.

Total violent crime is down one percentage point from 2012, while property crime remains unchanged.

See Which Providence Neighborhoods Have The Most Violent Crime In The Slides Below

“The bottom line is, we need to get more police officers on the streets,” said Ward 6 Councilman Michael Correia. “Police are doing an excellent job with the resources we have.”

Narducci agreed, saying his primary concern now was adding officers.

The Providence Police Department's 67th academy this year, the first school since 2008, initially looked to hire about 40, although Narducci tallied a number closer to 65 expected to join the force soon.

Working with the smallest force in two decades due to budget cuts, the department shed more than 60 staff between 2011 and 2012 through incentivized retirements and vacant positions left unfilled.

Crime too high, but long-term trend is lower

While the crime numbers are too high, some say the long-term trend is down.

“The public perception is that there's been mayhem. That's not true,” said Teny Gross, the executive director of the Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence, an organization in Providence's south side that sprung up in 2001 in response to an alarming number of violent deaths.

In 1999, the city witnessed 26 murders. In 2000, that number rose to 30.

Today, both the police department and organizations like the institute have been impacted by massive recent cuts in federal funding.

Next year's budget adds approximately $5 million for policing over the current fiscal plan, but that number is still far below previous years: $65,470,568 next year compared to $77,711,483 in 2008 according to city documents.

According to Gross, whose organization works with youth to reduce violence, particularly gang-related, there's a lag between actual crime and the community's perception of it.

“We're coming off a decade where police were abundant,” Gross said, contrasting crime today with that when the institute was founded. “We're now living off the peace dividend.”

Crime data district by district

Sorting through this year's data by police district shows changes in crime trends. Among those areas to see a rise in violent crime are district 2, which includes Upper and Lower South Providence and Elmwood (up 13 percent over 2012); district 5, a combination of Olneyville, Hartford, and Silver Lake (up 9 percent this year); and district 6, which includes Manton, Mount Pleasant, Valley, and parts of Elmhurst (up 10 percent).

Districts 2 and 5 report the most violent crimes and tally four and three homicides apiece, respectively.

Correia said his biggest public safety concerns were violent crime and gun violence, in addition to quality of life issues which “face every neighborhood here in the city,” and every city across the nation.

“We try to work with our neighborhood youth,” he said. “We all need to live, work, and play here in the community.”

Community policing and crime watches

The previous head of his ward's crime watch, Correia pointed to those neighborhood groups for their assistance. “We ask them to be the eyes and ears on their community streets.”

In monthly watch meetings across the city, police hear concerns directly from residents. “That has helped a lot to have a line of communication,” said Councilwoman Sabina Matos, the Ward 15 representative, who said car break-ins have become a recent concern.

Susan Derita, a coordinator for one of the oldest crime watch groups in Elmhurst, said the watches worked to keep people informed.

“It really started off as a suggestion of the neighborhood police officer,” 18 years ago, she said. “Providence being as small as it is, there really are no borders between different areas.”

With a growth in the number of watches in recent years, tripling to 15, there has also been increasing cooperation between those groups.

“A crime watch works best when neighbors simply look after other neighbors and take it one next step to creating a network of easy and quick mode communication,” said Monica Anderson, with the Hope neighborhood watch group. Before while living on Fifth Street, Anderson said her home was broken into and she didn't know her neighbors.

“Do I think a crime watch would have prevented the break in? I don't know the answer for sure, but I would have felt a bit more secure that night if I knew how to contact one of my neighbors if I needed a hand.”

Solutions include more officers on the streets, jobs

This past October, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse joined Taveras and others in announcing a $150,000 federal grant to reduce gun and gang violence in the city. The Project Safe Neighborhoods Program grant will support partnerships between police, district attorneys, the nonviolence institute's Streetworkers program, and the Roger Williams University School of Justice Studies to focus on crime reduction initiatives.

“Ideally, we should have more patrols, more community policing, to get to know the neighbors and the youth in the community,” Matos said.

“Beat patrols, beat patrols are big,” echoed Narducci. “But to have beat patrols you need the numbers.” In addition to programs for youth and more officers, he also advocated for mandatory minimum sentences for violent offenders.

Gross, whose institute teaches nonviolence to students, police, and community members modeled around Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy, said addressing unemployment would go a long way toward resolving crime.

“If people are leading productive lives, they're paying taxes,” instead of costing tax dollars, he said.

Related Slideshow:
Providence’s Most Dangerous Neighborhoods

Each week, the Providence Police Department releases its "Weekly Crime Comparison Report" on its website. The breakdown covers how many crimes have occured in the past week, past month, and year to date in each Police District and comparing them with the same time interval from the year prior, reflecting changes in crime rates. GoLocal has distilled the key data points from this weeks report to reflect YTD crime data grouped by general category- violent, property, other, and total. We ranked the districts by 2013 violent crimes to date. For the full report as filed by the PPD, click here

Prev Next

#9: District 9

College Hill, Wayland Square, Fox Point

Violent Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 35

2012: 53

Property Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 597

2012: 630

Other Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 183

2012: 218

Total Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 815

2012: 901

Prev Next

#8: District 8

Mount Hope, Hope, Blackstone

Violent Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 36

2012: 40

Property Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 596

2012: 531

Other Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 226

2012: 212

Total Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 858

2012: 783

Prev Next

#7: District 3

Reservoir, South Elmwood, Washington Park

Violent Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 63

2012: 67

Property Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 443

2012: 452

Other Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 311

2012: 305

Total Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 817

2012: 824

Prev Next

#6: District 1


Violent Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 79

2012: 94

Property Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 1116

2012: 1118

Other Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 563

2012: 580

Total Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 1758

2012: 1792

Prev Next

#5: District 6

Mount Pleasant, Manton, Elmhurst

Violent Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 128

2012: 116

Property Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 829

2012: 885

Other Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 531

2012: 559

Total Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 1488

2012: 1560

Prev Next

#4: District 7

Charles, Wanskuck, Smith Hill

Violent Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 172

2012: 183

Property Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 1143

2012: 1092

Other Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 784

2012: 813

Total Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 2099

2012: 2088

Prev Next

#3: District 4

Federal Hill, West End

Violent Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 173

2012: 188

Property Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 1082

2012: 1085

Other Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 755

2012: 919

Total Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 2010

2012: 2192

Prev Next

#2: District 5

Olneyville, Silver Lake, Hartford

Violent Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 206

2012: 189

Property Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 911

2012: 865

Other Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 758

2012: 724

Total Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 1875

2012: 1778

Prev Next

#1: District 2

Upper South Providence, Lower South Providence, Elmwood

Violent Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 213

2012: 188

Property Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 966

2012: 964

Other Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 841

2012: 910

Total Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 2020

2012: 2062

Prev Next


Violent Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 1121

2012: 1135

Property Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 7738

2012: 7714

Other Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 5017

2012: 5296

Total Crimes Reported (YTD)

2013: 13876

2012: 14145


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Christopher Lee

Erol Ricketts – a black demographer and sociologist – researched the black family. From the late 19th century through most of the 20th century, despite the gravest of poverty, deprivation, and discrimination, the black family had higher marriage rates than whites. Until 1970, black women were more likely to get married than white women, despite high mortality rates among black men. The black family faced severe handicaps from 1890 until the 1960s, yet they had strong families and low crime rates.

Then liberals in the 1960s thought it would be a great idea to subsidize illegitimacy. Many warned disastrous consequences would follow, to no avail. Increasingly, black women “married” welfare instead of the fathers of their children. Today over 72% of black babies are born to unwed mothers. Government is now the “baby daddy” for far too many black children today. Black fathers have disappeared.

Illegitimacy is a social catastrophe. According to the Family Research Council:

Illegitimacy is related to poor health at birth.
The absence of married parents is related to retarded development in early childhood.
The absence of married parents is related to poor academic performance during school years.
The absence of married parents risks emotional and behavioral problems at the end of childhood.
The absence of married parents leads to intergenerational illegitimacy.
The effects of illegitimacy spill over into crime in the community.
The absence of married parents reinforces the cycle of welfare.

What is the liberal’s answer to the destruction they have wrought? More entitlements; cries for more “investments” in more “programs.” Liberals use the bad consequences they created as an argument to grow the welfare-industrial complex. Their “cure” for social pathologies makes the disease worse.

You will never hear liberal politicians and poverty pimps cry for the reversal of government policies that are destroying society. But facts can be stubborn things. Until we disincentivize illegitimacy, there is no hope for Providence’s neighborhoods.


It has been the policy of the Cicilline and Taveras administrations to import more crime and poverty to the city to shore up their voter base! They turn a blind eye to the crime and coddle the poverty, and the taxpayers pay for it all.. our public safety is at risk because of their greed. Taveras and Cicilline are hypocrites and frauds and neither one of them would have ever gotten elected if they told you the truth.

Tom Hoffman

The funny thing about Christopher Lee's comment is that there aren't that many black people in Providence who aren't relatively recent immigrants.

David Beagle

How much more money will be spent on studies that show where poverty and unemployment are high, there will be more crime? Never mind he other factors that assure high crime, but are too politically incorrect to mention.


Growing up in what might be called the middle of 3-Providence Districts (just outside of the West End, Olneyville and Cranston Street, Union Ave. area) why am I not surprised at what part of Providence is the most crime ridden?

I'm 72-years old and Upper South Providence, Lower South Providence, Elmwood was always a serious crime area....and 'The Element' that has caused the problems is, for all intents and purposes, the same element causing the problems today. However, our Bleeding heart, leftist, Do-Gooders will not allow this FACT to be acknowledged as it would be considered racist.

On another note, I am somewhat surprised to see what are the next two or three crime rampart areas.

Again, back when I was growing-up, there were, shall I say, 'Issues' that came up and 'Raymond' had them handled. Also, he would have never stood for what is taking place today with 'The Element' that has moved in, are taking over, and also are the primary source of the crime for these pasrts of the city.

All of which goes to prove (Again the Do-Gooders will not admit to it) 'The Elements' that have long been the source of problems.

Now "The New Element' that are moving into "The Magnet City' are upholding the well known fact that way too many of certain ethnic groups know of no other way of conducting themselves and should be gotten rid of....one way or another!

Tom Hoffman

Tom, really, this is nonsense because demographically those areas have been completely transformed in your lifetime. Was Elmwood full of Caribbean and Southeast Asian immigrants in the 60's?


Please go back and read what I wrote.....obviously you did not fully grasp the point I was trying to make?

My apologies! grin

I'm REPEATING the following from the report that ranked this area #1,

I'm 72-years old and Upper South Providence, Lower South Providence, Elmwood was always a serious crime area....and 'The Element' that has caused the problems is, for all intents and purposes, the same element causing the problems today.

While I will admit that area, of which you also reference, has somewhat changed in demographics, the ELEMENT that were the problem when I was growing up IS STILL THERE and contributes very heavily to the crime problem!!

Further, the ELEMENT of which you speak, while a growing problem in the Upper South Providence, Lower South Providence, Elmwood areas....that ELEMENT are very much the problem in the areas that came in 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the survey.....and they did not even exist, almost anywhere, back in the 60's!

Charles Marsh

I live in Westerly and we have instituted an "open door" policy for felons. We have supported the mass release of RI prisoners to cut costs. According to a spokesperson for the Westerly's Chamber of Commerce, last year they were working with 17 organizations to facilitate Westerly's Re-entry Prgm. We also have many downtown rooming houses located next to beautiful Wilcox Park that now accommodates over 500 criminals. So if you want to export some of your problem children, Westerly has many "felon friendly" landlords, a 1.3 million dollar soup kitchen, and clueless town council. (No necessarily in that order)

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