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History of The Department of Public Safety

In 2008 the Rhode Island General Assembly passed Article 9 of H 7390 in an effort to reorganize many functions of state government. The major focus of this reorganization was to bring several law enforcement and criminal justice agencies previously under the Department of Administration under one organizational structure. This re-structuring created the Department of Public Safety. There are seven agencies in the Department of Public Safety: the Rhode Island State Police, the Division of the Rhode Island State Fire Marshal, the E 9-1-1 Uniform Emergency Telephone System, the Rhode Island Capitol Police, the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy, the Public Safety Grants Administration Office (formerly the Rhode Island Justice Commission), and the Rhode Island Division of Sheriffs.

The goal of the consolidation of these agencies is to assure the provision of professional services, enable the most efficient and effective use of the state's public safety resources, allow for the consolidation of the communications, training, and operating procedures of these agencies, and protect the lives and promote the safety of the citizens of the state.

The legislation named the Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police as the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. Accordingly all directors of these agencies report to the Commissioner. The Commissioner is appointed by, reports directly to, and serves at the pleasure of the Governor. Shortly after this designation, the Commissioner appointed a Major of the Rhode Island State Police as the Commanding Officer for the Department of Public Safety. The Major/Department of Public Safety works with the Directors of the Department's agencies and acts as the representative for the Commissioner. The Commissioner also established the Department of Public Safety - Central Management Office. This office is responsible for the entire fiscal, budgetary and personnel functions of all of the agencies within the Department. Additionally, all grant management functions of the Public Safety Grants Administration Office were incorporated within this unit.

Though the objective of this re-structuring effort is to consolidate the communications, training, and operating procedures, all of the agencies moved into the Department continue to perform their statutorily mandated functions in the same manner they have in the past.

As mentioned earlier, the Department of Public Safety was created in an effort to consolidate state public safety agencies so that services could be provided in a more efficient and cohesive manner. The priorities of the Department are, and will remain, to protect lives and promote safety for the citizens of Rhode Island, and increase public confidence and accountability.