PROVIDENCE – “See something, say something” has become part of our vocabulary in recent years. It may be an overused phrase, but it is still good guidance, says Napoleon Brito, the new director of community security for the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.
Brito, who wants you to call him “Nappy,” said it’s the best advice he can give to a community that might be on edge in the wake of the hostage crisis at a Texas synagogue in January.
Brito knows what he’s talking about. He has more than 40 years of experience in security and law enforcement, including 20 years with the Providence Police Department. He started as a patrol officer in Providence in 1987, then moved to the Bureau of Criminal Identifications (BCI) unit in 1991.
At the BCI, which is the forensics collection office of the Providence Police Detective Bureau, Brito became a fingerprint expert.
When he retired from the police force, in 2007, he was the commander and supervisor of the 15 detectives assigned to the BCI. These are the detectives who you see investigating crime scenes.
Brito then went on to serve as director of security for the Providence Place mall for seven years.
All this was after a start in the military, graduating in 1976 from the U.S. Air Force Security Police Academy, in Colorado. The lifelong Rhode Islander was in the service for four years as a security specialist at NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Complex, in Colorado Springs.
Brito, who grew up in Cranston, said he loved the openness of Colorado, and the people, but added that Rhode Islanders “always come home.”
He is now charged with coordinating security for the Rhode Island Jewish community, which includes southeastern Massachusetts. He started the job at the beginning of January.
“I’ve been working in security all my life,” Brito said. “This is a way to help, a way to work with people who are generally concerned with security. I know I can help to make a difference.
“Good outcomes can come with training in security. People can be taught.”
Brito’s office is at the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center, but he will be visiting communities and Jewish institutions around the state. And he will be checking in with municipal police departments as well.
Brito emphasized that he was hired to enhance already existing programs.
“Partnerships are important. They’ve already been established, we just need to keep maintaining them,” he said. “Police departments change. You have to reestablish yourself on a yearly basis.”
Communication, he said, is key to security: “Keep vigilant and communicate.” That’s where “see something, say something” comes in. And he reminds people that “nothing is insignificant.”
“I’m planning to streamline the process of passing on information. There is no such thing as a problem, there’s only a solution,” he said.
As he gets up to speed, Brito is also going to set up more free community training sessions, so people have some resources in all kinds of security situations.
“I encourage everyone to do the training they [have already] scheduled, and we will augment it. There will be more training. That’s my plan. My main goal will be facilitating training. Every facility will have access,” he said.
“But you can’t let security concerns paralyze you,” he said. “You have to go on with life.”
If you want to report a security issue, you can contact Brito at 401-421-4111. The Jewish Alliance also has an antisemitism tracker available for reporting acts of hate, bigotry and hostility. Got to www.jewishallianceri.org/report-it.
A Community Security Refresher is scheduled for Feb. 16, 6-7:30, via Zoom. According to Brito, it will be a “wide overview” featuring Steve Cileli, of Lock-It Down Consulting, in Cranston. On-site trainings will be scheduled at later dates.
Eventually, Brito will do trainings along with Cileli.
Brito, who lives in Warwick, is married and has three stepchildren and two grandsons.
For more information or to register for the Jewish Community Security Refresher, go to www.jewishallianceri.org/security-refresher. If you want to report a security issue, you can contact Napoleon Brito at 401-421-4111.
FRAN OSTENDORF (email@example.com) is the editor of Jewish Rhode Island.