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Colombian immigrant is first Latino to assume role as Providence Police Chief

Óscar Pérez moved to the United States at the age of 13 with his father in search of better opportunities and thus began to forge his future

Providence Police Chief Oscar Perez
Providence Police Chief Oscar Perez | City of Providence

March 4, 2023 12:22pm

Updated: March 4, 2023 12:26pm

Colombian immigrant Óscar Pérez was recently appointed as the first Latino to assume the role of Providence, Rhode Island Police Chief. 

His appointment as the 38th police chief of the city was confirmed last month by Providence Mayor Brett Smiley, who wished him success in his new role within the institution.

Pérez moved to the United States at the age of 13 with his father in search of better opportunities.

"I arrived when I was a teenager. I left Colombia and the town of Bello with my family in search of opportunities, we were a very humble family. When I arrived I did not know how to speak English, but I began to interact with people and with the Police, because for me their stories and experiences were very striking," Pérez said in an interview with Blu Radio.

Starting as a street patrolman, Pérez joined the force in 1994, where he worked his way up for almost 30 years. Now, he will be in charge of more than 400 police officers.

In an interview with W Radio about the growing controversies about police violence, he said it was vital for law enforcement to maintain a close relationship with their communities.

"In the United States there are 18,000 police departments and each one has its own rules. I have been here for almost 30 years, and our mission is to work directly with the community. It is a mutual relationship," he said.

"When someone makes a mistake, we have to make sure that we officers hold them accountable. If something happens in New York and they let it happen, it will affect me here in Providence, but if I have a good relationship with the community, it will support you," he added.