Cloture Motion

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 9, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WHITEHOUSE. Mr. President, I am delighted to join my senior Senator to honor our common friend, Vincent Vespia, who was lately the chief of the South Kingstown, RI, police department.

He passed away on January 24, 2023, surrounded by his wife Judith-Ann and their cherished daughters Robin and Renee.

As Jack said, Vinnie Vespia grew up in Providence, and he served 2 years in the Army before returning home to Rhode Island and a career of service in the Rhode Island State Police.

Chief Vespia was a legend in our outstanding Rhode Island law enforcement community--famously fearless in his pursuit of justice.

During his 22-year career in the State police, Chief Vespia was at the center of the State's ongoing fight against organized crime, back in that day when the mob was a force in Rhode Island and the Rhode Island State Police was its counterforce.

His courageous police work led to the downfall of some of the State's most violent mobsters, including crime boss Raymond Patriarca and the notorious Gerald and Harold Tillinghast.

Along with his grit and toughness, Chief Vespia had style. In the book that Jack referenced, ``The Prince of Providence,'' Mike Stanton wrote that:

One night Vespia came crashing through the second-floor window of Willie Marfeo's crap game on Federal Hill from the bucket of a cherry picker, waving a machine gun at two dozen stunned dice players.

Not everybody does that.

After his successful career with the State Police, Chief Vespia went on to take the helm of the South Kingstown Police Department, where he spent the next three and a half decades.

Chief Vespia was the longest serving leader of that department and will be fondly remembered for his pursuit of justice, for his unimpeachable sense of right and wrong, for his persistent good humor, and, of course, for the love and respect of that community that he leaves behind.

Hearing Vinnie Vespia tell stories of his law enforcement career with a twinkle in his eye is an indelible memory for me, and he was a mentor to me, as well as to the young officers who he brought up in law enforcement.

When Chief Vespia retired in 2016, it was widely accepted that he was one of the greatest to ever have worn our uniform.

I thank him and his family for supporting him in his devoted service. I, like many, will miss him dearly. Rhode Island was lucky to have this man, and we are safer because of him and many officers he mentored and trained who carry on the Vincent Vespia legacy to this day.