Seven Individuals to be Inducted in the Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame

Seven Individuals Inducted in the Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame

2018 Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony to be held on Tuesday, June 12th 

Established by Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin in 2012, the Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame honors outstanding professionals who have worked to improve and uphold the principles of the criminal justice system in Rhode Island.

Nominees, as chosen by the Board of Trustees, have distinguished themselves through outstanding personal and professional achievements in the field of criminal justice while maintaining the highest standard of integrity and character.

“We established the Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame because we believed it was important to recognize and honor the outstanding professionals who have worked to improve and uphold the principles of the criminal justice system here in the Ocean State,” said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. “This year’s inductees to the Hall of Fame are trailblazers, leaders, and role models, and have contributed much to improving our criminal justice system.”

The 2018 class includes:

Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr.

Providence Police Department

The Honorable Walter R. Stone (deceased)

Associate Justice, Rhode Island Superior Court

 

Chief Joseph Stetkiewicz (deceased)

Central Falls Police Department

 

Major Lionel “Pete” Benjamin (deceased)

Rhode Island State Police

 

 

Susan Erstling, Ph.D.

Family Service of RI and RI State Victim Assistance Academy

 

Robert W. McKenna

Director

Roger Williams University Justice

System Training and Research Institute

Stephen J. Springer

Detective, Providence Police Department (retired)

Investigator, Rhode Island Office of Attorney General (retired)

The 2018 Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at starting at 5:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick.

Tickets are on sale now. Tickets cost $35 each and can be purchased online here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rhode-island-criminal-justice-hall-of-fame-induction-ceremony-tickets-45312248154?aff=es2 or by calling Amy Kempe at 401-952-7726.

For photos of or interviews with inductees, please contact Amy Kempe at 401-952-7726 or akempe@gmail.com.

Bios of inductees are below:

Major Lionel Benjamin (deceased)

Rhode Island State Police

Lionel J. “Pete” Benjamin graduated from the Rhode Island State Police Training Academy on June 29, 1958.  As a member of the Uniform Bureau, he was assigned to the Wickford, Scituate, Chepachet, Lincoln Woods, Portsmouth and Howard Barracks.  He was appointed to the Detective Bureau in 1965 and served in the Intelligence Unit and the Bureau of Criminal Identification.  As a Captain, he was the Officer-in-Charge of the Detective Bureau.  He was also assigned to the Fire Marshal’s Office.  Major Benjamin attended the prestigious FBI National Academy in 1972. Prior to joining the state police Major Benjamin was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Lionel J. Benjamin was promoted through the ranks of the state police, eventually to the rank of Major. As Major, he served as the Executive Officer to Colonel Walter E. Stone from 1974 to his retirement in 1990.  At that time, the Executive Officer was the second-in-command of the Rhode Island State Police. Major Benjamin was the longest serving second-in-command in the history of the state police.

Major Benjamin received numerous commendations and letters of appreciation from government officials and private business executives during his long career.

Major Benjamin was actively involved in the investigation of the Bonded Vault Storage Company robbery in 1975, when an estimated $3 million was taken.  Based on information developed by Major Benjamin, a key subject was indicted by the Providence County Grand Jury.  While working in concert with Providence Police Detectives, that subject was apprehended and seven other organized crime figures were arrested as well.  The arrests resulted in numerous convictions for members of the robbery crew.

In 1986 Major Benjamin received information from a subject serving a considerable prison sentence who conveyed information to the Major that he had details regarding the 1977 murder of underworld figure Richard “Dickie” Callei. A subsequent lengthy investigation ensued on this cold case by the State Police and Providence Police that eventually led to the arrest and conviction of numerous individuals. Callei’s body was found in a shallow grave in Rehoboth Massachusetts shortly after the murder. Frank “BoBo” Marrapese was convicted as the shooter.

During his time as a young detective, Major Benjamin developed a keen ability to cultivate information from career criminals in an attempt to penetrate organized crime. At that time, organized criminal groups were wreaking havoc in New England. Some of the information gleaned by Major Benjamin would not be attributed to him to protect the origin of the information. Major Benjamin was known by law enforcement, including the FBI, prosecutors and members of the judiciary to not only provide quality information on criminal activity but information that could be proven accurate and credible. Major Benjamin cultivated information for decades that led to the arrest of numerous members and associates of the Patriarca Crime Family.

The Major passed on in 2008. He was predeceased by his lovely wife Eleanor. He was the proud father of Mark and Gregory Benjamin.

Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr.

Providence Police Department

Hugh T. Clements Jr. was appointed to the Providence Police Department on May 5, 1985 as a night Patrol Officer in the Uniform Division. He then went on to serve on the Neighborhood Response Team Uniformed Task Force before being transferred to the Special Investigations Bureau, the department’s vice and drug unit. In 1990, Clements was promoted to Detective where he worked in the night squad. In 1992, Detective Clements was promoted to the rank of Sergeant where he spent three years as a night Sergeant in Sub-District 1, South Providence. Sergeant Clements was then transferred to the Detective Bureau where he served as the Squad 2 Sergeant and spent the next seven years supervising the investigations of all major crimes including murder, robbery, burglary, firearms offenses and gang activity. In a squad that carried an extremely heavy caseload, he played an active role in several major investigations during this time.

In 2002, Clements was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and transferred to the midnight shift of the Patrol Bureau. Lieutenant Clements was later assigned as District 5 Commander covering the neighborhoods of Olneyville, Hartford, and Silver Lake. Consistent with the department philosophy at this time, the true community police model was practiced with several creative and innovative initiatives carried out in this particular district. He was transferred back to the Detective Bureau, and in December 2005, he was promoted to Captain where he was responsible for all major crime operations in the Investigative Division.

In 2008, when promoted to Major, he was assigned for one year as Commander of the Homeland Security Division, before being reassigned as the Commanding Officer of the Uniform Division. He later served as Deputy Chief and was appointed as Acting Chief of Police in July 2011. On January 6, 2012, he was appointed as the 37th Chief of the Department and promoted to the rank of Colonel.

Colonel Clements received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Sociology from the University of Rhode Island and a Bachelor of Science Degree in the Administration of Justice from Roger Williams University. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He attended many specialty schools throughout his career such as: The New York State Police Williams Homicide School, The Illinois State Police Supervisor’s School, ATF National Gang School in California, and in 2005 he graduated from the Leadership RI Alpha11 Class and the Senior Management Institute for Police put on by the Harvard Kennedy School at Boston University.

Chief Clements is the recipient of numerous commendations for excellent police work and devotion to duty, including being recognized with the Chiefs Award 3three times. He has also received recognition from the FBI, the Attorney General’s Office, and other law enforcement agencies Additionally, he also received several awards for his participation in a RICO Latin King Investigation.

Colonel Clements, his wife Donna, and two daughters Kayleigh and Kourtney reside in East Greenwich.

Susan Erstling, PhD, LICSW

Family Service of Rhode Island and RI State Victim Assistance Academy

As Senior Vice President of Family Service of Rhode Island’s Trauma and Loss Department, Dr. Erstling oversaw all trauma, victim, child development community policing teams, adoption, military family, and related professional development focused programs and services.

She served as principal investigator for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network-supported Child’s Treatment and Recovery Center and the federal Administration for Children and Families–funded Together Forever Project, an intensive child-focused adoptive parent recruitment initiative.

Dr. Erstling was instrumental in creating the Rhode Island State Victim Assistance Academy in partnership with the Justice System Training and Research Institute at Roger Williams University.  The academy trains police officers and other first responders in best practices when helping victims of violence, sexual abuse, human trafficking, elder abuse and other crimes.

Dr. Erstling was instrumental in developing community policing teams in Providence, and later in replicating the model with the East Providence and State Police Departments. This programming received the 2008 Providence Community Partner and 2012 RI Attorney General Justice award.

Family Service of Rhode Island and the Providence Police Department were also honored with a national MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Special Strategy Award for Diversity and Inclusion for their work together in reducing crime and spurring positive development in low-income Providence communities.

Specializing in trauma-focused, evidence-based treatment for children who have experienced abuse, neglect, or violence exposure, Dr. Erstling has taught at numerous universities and schools of social work. She participated in the 2010 USDOJ «Children Exposed to Violence National Experts Meeting» via invitation by US Attorney General Eric Holder, and serves on the National Child Traumatic Stress Network’s Steering Committee, and serves as Chair of the Lucy’s Hearth Board of Directors, the homeless shelter for women and children located in Middletown.

Susan is a resident of Newport, RI.

Robert W. McKenna

Director of the Justice System Training & Research Institute at Roger Williams University

Robert W. McKenna is the Associate Dean and serves as an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice in the School of Justice Studies at Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island.  Additionally, he serves as the Director of the Justice System Training & Research Institute, the professional development component of the School of Justice Studies.

McKenna holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and a Master of Science degree in the Administration of Justice from Salve Regina University, Newport, Rhode Island, as well as a Juris Doctor degree from The New England School of Law, Boston, Massachusetts.

He has had an affiliation and instructional experiences with the Rhode Island Municipal Police Training Academy, the Rhode Island State Fire Academy, the Fire Science Program at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the Sociology Department at Salve Regina University.  Additionally, he was a founding member and Past President of the Rhode Island Law Enforcement Trainers Association, and has presented at local, state, regional, and national conferences and seminars on law enforcement issues.

Before joining the School of Justice Studies, he completed over twenty years of service with the East Providence, Rhode Island police department, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant and at the time of retirement he was commanding the Planning & Training Unit.  His experience in law enforcement includes service as a civilian dispatcher, patrol officer, detective, sergeant, and as a lieutenant with four different duty assignments.

For several years he served first as a paralegal and then as an attorney with the Law Offices of Charles M. Nystedt, Providence, Rhode Island.  During his tenure with the East Providence police department he acted as a City Solicitor and prosecuted a number of cases to trial in the state District Court and the City of East Providence Municipal Court. He is a member of the Rhode Island Bar as well as the Federal Bar.

McKenna resides in Bristol, RI

 

Stephen J. Springer (retired)

Detective, Providence Police Department and Investigator, RI Office of Attorney General

A 1968 graduate of the Providence Police Academy, Stephen J. Springer served in the Patrol Bureau for approximately five years before being promoted to Detective. For the next 30 years, he served as a Detective, largely in the South Providence area.  During that time, he served as the primary or secondary investigator on more than 200 homicides, a number unmatched in Rhode Island law enforcement. He joined the RI Office of Attorney General in 2004 as an investigator, retiring in December 2017.

He has received numerous awards over his career, including the Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Award (1978), Rhea Archambeault Award (1984), Medal of Valor (1984), Commissioner’s Award (1993), Rhode Island Justice Assistance “Neil Houston Award” (2001), and FOP Outstanding Police Officer of the Year (2002).

Over the course of his nearly 50 years in law enforcement, Stephen Springer epitomized professionalism, dedication, courage, and integrity, tirelessly working on the streets for his entire career, and in the process served as the face of law enforcement to all those he encountered.

Springer and his wife Virginia McGinn reside in Barrington, RI.

Chief Joseph Stetkiewicz (deceased)

Central Falls Police Department

For twenty-two years, Chief Stetkiewicz demonstrated and epitomized leadership with ideals including being a true “peacemaker,” pioneering law enforcement achievements in the department, and strengthening an agency with a foundation that has resonated beyond his departure.

He was appointed as a patrol officer with the Central Falls Police Department on April 1, 1929.  He was promoted to police inspector on two separate occasions by different police commissions; a rank he retained until such rank was abolished on April 17, 1934, at which time he was appointed as a sergeant.

He held the rank of sergeant until his promotion to captain on July 17, 1941.  On November 14, 1946, he was named the eighth chief of the Central Falls Police Department to succeed George E. Collette.  Chief Stetkiewicz remained as police chief for nearly 22 years, until retiring from the Central Falls Police Department on July 27, 1968.  Chief Stetkiewicz passed away on November 18, 1992 at the age of 89.

Chief Stetkiewicz was known as a great “street cop,” who successfully ascended through the ranks and served with distinction in both operational and administrative capacities. After he was promoted to Chief, he immediately addressed the personal welfare of every member of the agency.  In 1947, the morale was greatly improved with the advent of the first across the board salary increase.  Moreover, all patrol officers were placed on an annual salary basis instead of the former daily wage scale due largely in part by his efforts.

Serving with distinction, Chief Stetkiewicz was appointed by his peers as President of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs’ Association (1951 – 1953), where he served as liaison to numerous law enforcement and community agencies.

As chief of police – through the subsequent decades – Chief Stetkiewicz defined his greatest strength as the ability to think conceptually and implement effective problem-solving initiatives.

Chief Stetkiewicz believed in good morale in the department, and thought there was great merit for the agency to join the Fraternal Order of Police.  On June 2, 1952, The Central Falls Lodge, No. 2, FOP was officially organized as the second in the State (which still continues today).  Based on the founding of this organization, it was highly due to his encouragement and support to have officers with the highest degree of skill, efficiency, discipline and loyalty within its ranks.

Some of the other many advancements he brought to the agency included the creation and establishment of an Auxiliary Police Unit in 1951; a School Traffic Safety Officer in 1953; and, a position as “Sergeant-Mechanic” to deal with all duties for the maintenance of fleet vehicles in 1953. In July of 1954, through the direction and guidance of Chief Stetkiewicz, the department began conducting examinations for all future appointments to the agency and promotions within the ranks.  All these measures were exceedingly rare at the time.

Chief Stetkiewicz was a law enforcement progressive that set out to reform the Central Falls Police Department.  As a result, his stellar leadership was met with respect and admiration by all those under his command.  He was a true pioneer in policing which has left an indelible mark that is still evident today.

The Honorable Walter R. Stone (deceased)

Associate Justice, Rhode Island Superior Court

A civil rights activist. A servant leader. An advocate for equity and justice. A U.S. Marine combat veteran. These are just a few of the phrases that describe the long and storied career of Walter R. Stone.

Judge Stone was well known for his successful career as an attorney. He practiced law for more than 35 years, starting his career in the Rhode Island Office of Attorney General, the first African American lawyer to serve in the office.  He ascended to the rank of Assistant Attorney General, prosecuting 25 murder cases before leaving to pursue a career as a criminal defense lawyer.  As one of a handful of black attorneys in Rhode Island, Walter Stone served as a role model and mentor and was devoted to ensuring that Rhode Island would be a place of opportunity for young black attorneys to make a difference in the African American community.  He founded a law firm in the early 1980s with friends and colleagues that he recruited to Rhode Island – Stone, Clifton and Clifton with attorneys William Clifton and Judge Edward Clifton.  Later, he became a partner at Adler Pollock & Sheehan, and finished his career in the judiciary as an Associate Justice of the Rhode Island Superior Court, appointed by Governor Donald Carcieri in 2010.

Judge Stone was also active in politics.  He was a candidate for Rhode Island Attorney General, a coordinator for the Rhode Island campaign for Jesse Jackson’s presidential bid, and was elected delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.  He often spoke about how thrilled he was to watch Barack Obama accept the nomination for President of the United States.

Judge Stone also gave back to his community, serving on the Board of the Rhode Island Lung Association, chairing the Black Heritage Society, and creating the Black Philanthropy Initiative, a field of interest fund at the Rhode Island Foundation to provide philanthropic support for systematic and positive change in the black community

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