SOUTH KINGSTOWN â€“ After serving as a Rhode Island State Trooper for 21 years, leading investigations in the arrest of crime boss Raymond Patrairca and solving a 1970s murder by five former Coventry Police officers, South Kingstown Police Chief Vincent Vespia, Jr. was inducted into the inaugural Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame last night at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick.
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin announced last Friday, Jan. 6, the the creation of theRhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame to honor outstanding professionals who have worked to improve and uphold the principles of the criminal justice system in Rhode Island. Ten Rhode Island criminal justice professionals, from local and state law enforcement, academics, judges, and attorneys make up the inaugural class.
"From protecting the safety and security of our communities to eliciting truth and ensuring due process of law, the thousands of men and women who make up our criminal justice system help make our system of law the finest in the world," Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin said. "By creating the Hall of Fame, we have an opportunity to honor the men and women who have significantly contributed to our criminal justice system."
When Vespia heard of his induction at a meeting for police chiefs around the state he couldn't believe the news.
â€śIt's an extraordinary honor if you're recognized by professional people you've been associated with, that is an honor in itself, but to be named to the hall of fame as an inaugural inductee is an extraordinary honor and one that took me by surprise," Vespia said.
â€śThe honor is something like a legacy they provided me. I will always be profoundly grateful and proud of not only the legacy left to me but to my family,â€ť he added.
Colonel Steven G. Oâ€™Donnell, Superintendent, of the Rhode Island State Police and Commissioner of the Department Of Public Safety nominated Vespia because of his 52 years in law enforcement, including 22 years in the state police and 30 years as South Kingstown Police Chief and his role in leading the investigations into organized crime throughout his career in the state police.
â€śHe was a mentor to hundreds of police officers in the state throughout his 50 year tenure,â€ť O'Donnell said. â€śThere are legendary stories about how he was part of trafficking and investigating organized crime throughout his career. He was a pioneer. His legacy continues to guys like me. He is held in the highest regard by me.â€ť
Becoming a member of the Criminal Justice Hall of Fame was not what Vespia expected when he started his career 52 years ago after serving in the United States Army during the Korean War. A career in criminal justice was something Vespia happened to fall upon.
For more information, pick up a copy of tomorrow's paper.