EAST PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island State Police recently concluded a five-week investigation into claims of misuse of power on the part of some city officials in regard to the status of East Providence Police Chief Joseph Tavares, eventually deeming there to be insufficient evidence to press any criminal charges.
The State Police issued a press release on the matter Thursday, July 11, giving an overview of its findings. In a follow-up interview later that same day, Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Winquist, Deputy Superintendent/Chief of Field Operations for the RISP, said the sole reason for the department’s investigation into the affair was to determine if City Council members Chrissy Rossi and Thomas Rose Jr. usurped City Charter by being actively involved in personnel matters.
Allegations were made against Councilors Rossi and Rose of them having made a quid pro quo deal with City Manager Peter Graczykowski. If the latter terminated Chief Tavares then he would get a new employment contract to continue to serve as manager. According to the RISP report, Councilwoman Rossi and Councilman Rose exercised their right to counsel and did not fully cooperate with the investigation.
“We were asked by the East Providence Budget Commission to look at one very specific item. Primarily if there was any interference by members of the City Council into this personnel matter,” Lt. Col. Winquist, whose father Carl once served as EPPD chief, said. “There were a couple of other minor items, but our main focus was running a criminal investigation into this matter. We did our investigation. We vetted the evidence and at this time there were no criminal charges brought.”
If he wasn’t vindicated already, Chief Tavares appears to come out of the situation with his reputation fully intact. After being unceremoniously removed from his position by Mr. Graczykowski in early April of this year, he was quickly returned to the post roughly a month later by the Budget Commission upon a hasty investigation conducted by the state overseers. Lt. Col. Winquist emphatically added July 11 Chief Tavares “was never a target of the investigation. None of the allegations were specific to him.”
The State Police presented the Budget Commission with a more detailed report on the matter. The Commission could discuss the findings at its next meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 18, at 3 p.m. in Room 306 of City Hall.
“The Budget Commission has the report. Where they go from here is up to them. From our perspective, the evidence we found did not meet the probable cause standards to press criminal charges, “Lt. Col. Winquist added. “As of now, our participation in this matter is over unless someone else comes forward with new information or if some people change their minds and want to cooperate. If that happens, we’re ready to reopen the investigation, but as of now we’re finished with this case.”