Joined by members of the Michaelson family and friends, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin officially opened the Attorney General Julius C. Michaelson Customer Service Center at a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier today.
Located at 4 Howard Avenue in the Pastore Complex in Cranston, the Attorney General's new facility will house the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI), Consumer Protection Unit (CPU), and Diversion Unit, as well as flexible office space for attorneys.
The building is officially named after former Attorney General Julius C. Michaelson, who was considered the architect of many customer service protection laws in Rhode Island and spearheaded one of the country's first Consumer Protection Divisions. Michaelson was first elected as Attorney General in 1974 and served two terms until 1979.
"Attorney General Michaelson understood the unique role the Office of the Attorney General could play in helping citizens who were deceived or unfairly treated. Under his leadership, the state passed some of the strongest consumer protection and anti-discrimination laws in the country and established the Office's first-ever dedicated Consumer Protection Unit, which was seen as a model for other states to follow," said Attorney General Peter Kilmartin. "We built the Customer Service Center with Attorney General Michaelson's vision in mind - to make it as convenient and efficient as possible for citizens to interact with our office, be it for a background check, to meet with our diversion staff, or to file a complaint with our Consumer Protection Unit. It is only fitting to name this Customer Service Center after Attorney General Michaelson as a tribute to his leadership, vision, and commitment to improving the lives of Rhode Islanders."
Joining Kilmartin at the ribbon cutting were Attorney General Michaelson widow Rita, his children Jeff and Mark, former Massachusetts Attorney General Francis Bellotti, United States Attorney Stephen Dambruch, former Attorneys General Dennis Roberts and Patrick Lynch, Chiefs from several police departments, and members of the Rhode Island Judiciary.
The facility is approximately 26,700 square feet and is one of only 22 buildings in Rhode Island certified with a LEED silver rating. Energy efficient features include a 300-panel rooftop solar photovoltaic array that will generate approximately 120,000 kilowatts per year, and is predicted to reduce utility costs by more than $16,000 annually. Other LEED silver features include low flow plumbing fixtures and energy-optimized mechanical and electrical systems. In addition, 75 percent of construction waste was recycled or salvaged over the course of the project.
Due to increased security measures in both the private and public sectors, the need for state and/or national criminal background checks continues to rise. The overwhelming majority of these background checks are performed by the Rhode Island Office of the Attorney General.
Until now, background checks were completed at the Attorney General's office in downtown Providence. With limited on-street parking and a small lobby, the Attorney General's Office was never designed to accommodate the incredible influx of people seeking background checks over the past years.
The new facility will ease congestion in the Attorney General's main office, where the BCI window can serve an average of 300 to 350 customers per day. Last year alone, the BCI Unit performed approximately 75,000 state background checks and more than 24,000 national background checks.
Starting Monday, July 23, 2018, all in-person state and national background checks performed by the Attorney General's will only be available at the new Customer Service Center. Background check services will no longer be provided at the Attorney General's downtown Providence location. The Customer Service Center will be open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
The new Customer Service Center is located on a direct RIPTA bus line, offers plenty of free parking, and is centrally located in the Pastore Complex near several other state agencies.
The total building cost, including design and engineering, construction, equipment, and furnishing is approximately $15.4 million, and is funded solely through the Google settlement at no cost to the taxpayer.
"This is an exciting chapter for the Office. The one complaint we consistently heard from the public when they come to the Providence office for a background check or a consumer issue is the lack of parking and lobby space. We have eliminated that problem by creating this centrally located and inviting facility that offers plenty of parking and ease of access to public transportation," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "And most important, there is no cost to the taxpayer. This is a win-win for the State and the public."