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Paul Shanley, DPS deputy chief of police, dies at 61

Shanley is remembered for dedication to University, passion for community outreach

Paul Shanley, Deputy Chief of Police at the Department of Public Safety, passed away August 19 at the age of 61 after an eight-month battle with a rare form of bone cancer.

“‘Serve and protect’ — that was kind of the essence of him,” said his son Evan Shanley in an interview with The Herald. “Whether it was his family, or the City of Warwick, or Brown, that was what fulfilled him.”

A lifelong Rhode Islander, Shanley found his way into public service when the 1978 blizzard hit his community, burying the state with over two feet of snow during evening rush hour. Then only 19 years old, Shanley decided to check in at the nearby J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center, which provides services for adults and children with developmental and intellectual disabilities, to see if he could offer any help. At the time, Shanley worked as a custodian for the center.

Shanley planned to wait at the center until a bus came to bring its occupants home, but the bus never came, according to his son. With dangerous, icy roads, the bus couldn’t get through. Shanley then spent three days at the Trudeau Center — handing out medication, finding places to sleep and distributing food— before the bus finally arrived.

“That’s kind of what sparked him to pursue a career in law enforcement and serve the community,” Evan Shanley said. “That instinct to serve and protect.”

Shanley went on to earn a B.S. in criminal justice in 1985 from Roger Williams University and then to work at the Warwick Police Department. He started off as a patrol officer and advanced to detective, sergeant, lieutenant and eventually captain. He retired in 2007 but soon decided to work at the University.

“Work made him very happy,” Evan Shanley said. “He had a pension in Warwick, and financially it was not a need for work, but he loved his job at Brown.”

At the University, Shanley was second-in-command to Mark Porter, executive director and chief of police. His responsibilities included conducting internal investigations, acting as the department’s public information officer, heading emergency planning and providing expertise in dignitary protection. During his tenure as Deputy Chief at Brown, Shanley also received a Masters of Public Administration degree from Roger Williams in 2015.

Shanley was no stranger to late hours while he was at Brown. He and Porter were regularly in communication with each other when a crime happened near or on College Hill, sometimes at 2 or 3 a.m. Then, they would return to the office the next morning to prepare the team’s response to the incident.

Shanley had recently switched his shift from daytime to the evening — 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. — after his grandson was born, so the two could spend time together during the day.

“That’s a Chief’s dream to have their second in command switch to that,” Porter said. “Having him as my partner for 12 years — it was a great relationship. I can honestly say that we really didn’t have any disagreements in the 12 years together, which says a lot about our relationship and synergy.” Porter added that he quickly knew Shanley would excel in the campus policing environment, due to his personality and professionalism.

Shanley was a decorated officer — he received the First Class Medal and Ribbon for professionalism in 1988 — and he loved to present awards and accolades to officers and staff at the department commendation and swearing-in ceremonies. “It was really important to him to acknowledge and honor their hard work and courage, on behalf of Brown students and faculty and staff,” Porter said.

On top of this, Shanley treasured working with the community outreach team and attended many of the events, Porter wrote in an email to The Herald. “Cooking with cops” was a particular favorite. Shanley took pride in stationing himself at the grill and finding “special oil to keep the grill clean,” Porter wrote.

Despite his cancer diagnosis, Shanley maintained plans to return to Brown.

“As recently as July, he was talking about trying to come back, even though he had a terminal diagnosis,” said Evan Shanley. “The whole time, his motivation was, ‘I just want to get back to work, a normal life.’”

While Shanley felt devoted to his work, his family still held unparalleled importance to him.

“Being with his family and golfing were the two things that made him happiest,” Evan Shanley said.

Shanley was married to his wife Patti for 29 years. He leaves behind four children — Meaghan, Evan, Christopher and Sean — and one grandson, Maxwell Tyler, who lovingly called Shanley “Dah Pa.” He is survived by his fraternal twin brother, Rev. Brian J. Shanley, President of Providence College, his brother Michael, his brother Andrew and his sister Kathryn.



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