The Mayor and City Manager held a press conference on Monday to address safety in Newport.
In light of recent assault reports, including a 42-year-old woman attacked on Ruggles Avenueand a group of boys victim of attempted robbery,Newport Mayor Harry Winthrop and City Manager Jane Howington called a second press conference to address the public’s perception of safety in Newport.
The meeting was also attended by Newport City Council members.
“The number one priority in Newport is public safety. We will deploy whatever resources necessary,” Winthrop said.
As for added safety measures due to assault reports and rumors, Howington said that there are officers in the police department that can be moved around to different areas that could be hot spots for random assaults.
“If there is a hot spot and we have leads, we’ll put plain clothes officers out there,” she said.
Howington said the city will also hire a public information consultant using an emergency purchase order to further communication between the city and the community.
Councilor Kathryn Leonard said she would like to see the city be proactive rather than reactionary. “I would like to see unmarked cars. . .and beat police men. I don’t want to wait for another assault.”
Howington added that the city is taking the recent assaults in Newport so seriously because of the growing perception that the community is unsafe. That perception has been perpetuated by social media and blogs, she said.
The community would also benefit from resurrecting the neighborhood watch mentality. “If you see something, say something,” she said.
As for added police efforts, Councilor Justin McLaughlin said the community should trust that the police department are being transparent, up to some point.
“The police department can’t reveal everything,” he said.
The Newport Police Department is currently analyzing crime data to determine what, if any, if any areas in town have patterns of random assaults.