Contact: Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell, Superintendent/Rhode Island State Police and Commissioner/Rhode Island Department of Public Safety Telephone: (401) 444-1120
Colonel Steven G. O'Donnell, Superintendent, of the Rhode Island State Police and Commissioner of Public Safety, announces that during the week of September 16th, he was notified that Lieutenant Colonel Wilfred K. Hill had recently been involved in a restraining order hearing in Fourth Division District Court, regarding an ongoing domestic situation with a 23-year old woman. Based on the domestic violence allegations made by this woman, Colonel O'Donnell opened a professional standards investigation, which was led by Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Winquist, Deputy Superintendent and Chief of Field Operations. These allegations accused Lieutenant Colonel Hill of domestic violence.
Based on Colonel O'Donnell's relationship with Colonel Tim Alben, of the Massachusetts State Police, the sensitivity of this investigation and the high rank that Lieutenant Colonel Hill held, Colonel O'Donnell felt it would be necessary to consult with them. Colonel Alben agreed to provide a member of his staff to review the allegations and offer guidance related to the State Police investigation. During the past several weeks, Lieutenant Colonel Winquist and Major Karen D. Pinch, Chief Administrative Officer, interviewed this 23-year old woman, who reiterated her allegations of domestic violence. She also provided allegations and evidence of an inappropriate relationship that has transpired between the two over several years.
Based on the severity of the allegations, Colonel O'Donnell reached out to Ms. Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, who provided this 23-year-old woman with an advocate to review her allegations. The allegations were vetted thoroughly, and the woman was not willing to move forward with prosecution. The investigation also revealed that there was not enough evidence to support a prosecution. Colonel O'Donnell briefed the Attorney General's Office on this investigation as it developed.
However, it was clear from the investigation that Lieutenant Colonel Hill violated numerous Division policies, and the Rhode Island Code of Ethics in Government. This investigation was discussed with Lieutenant Colonel Hill. Lieutenant Colonel Hill took full responsibility for his inappropriate actions and recognized that he had violated the trust of the men and women of the Rhode Island State Police; and also the Division's policies and procedures and code of ethics.
Last night, Lieutenant Colonel Hill agreed to accept a demotion to the rank of Lieutenant and resign from the Division of State Police. Lieutenant Colonel Hill's inappropriate actions resulted in his demotion and departure from the State Police.
"One of my roles is to ensure that the integrity of the Division is upheld, and I take this responsibility very seriously. One of our members has made a grave error in judgment, and he is being held accountable. This decision avoids a potential lengthy administrative process. He accepts responsibility for his behavior and his punishment and did not want this to shine a negative light on the Division of State Police," stated Colonel O'Donnell.
The loss of one's employment is the ultimate penalty in employment law, but Lieutenant Colonel Hill betrayed the trust of his peers and those under his command who trusted him. It is important to note that Lieutenant Colonel Hill has had many years of valuable and credible service. He was a mentor to many and aspired to the position of Lieutenant Colonel. Colonel O'Donnell had to take that into consideration when navigating this agreement. It is also important to note that his behavior is something that the Rhode Island State Police would never condone or tolerate. This set of facts is isolated to one personóLieutenant Colonel Hill.
Colonel O'Donnell stated, "I apologize to the men and women of the Rhode Island State Police who have to see this unfold as well as the citizens of the State of Rhode Island, who expect the best from their State Police."