PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) — Gov. Daniel McKee announced Wednesday that he has named Lt. Col. Darnell Weaver to be the next Rhode Island State Police Superintendent, making him the first person of color to command the department.

Weaver will assume the rank of colonel in a swearing-in ceremony Friday at State House.

He succeeds Colonel James Manni, who is retiring to become South Kingstown’s general manager. Manni was appointed by former Governor Gina Raimondo in 2018.

Weaver, who is black, is a Marine Corps veteran who has worked in the state police for 28 years, according to the governor’s office.

As deputy superintendent and chief of field operations, he oversees patrol, detective and administrative offices, specialty units and the Department of Public Safety, according to the state police website.

He previously served at all State Police barracks and as Night Executive Officer and Deputy Commander of the Hope Valley and Wickford Barracks Patrol. He served as district commander and officer in charge of the State Police Training Academy.

“This is an outstanding achievement for Colonel Weaver,” said Charles Wilson, a retired Rhode Island College police lieutenant and former president of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers. “Knowing him as I know him, I fully believe he is more than capable of handling this position. He has the respect of the community and the officers.

Wilson has in the past criticized the diversity of police departments throughout Rhode Island. “We’re starting to see more people of color in high-ranking positions, but it’s still not enough,” he said.

John A’Vant, a retired state trooper and former president of the Rhode Island Guardians Association, an organization for color law enforcement in the state, also praised the choice.

A’Vant said he and Weaver didn’t really have role models who looked like them early in their careers.

“He was a positive and good role model for officers of color and for the community,” A’Vant said. “He understands the issues and concerns officers of color face in their careers.”

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