In recognition for excellence, dedication and accomplishment in emergency management, Johnston Police Chief Joseph Razza was recently presented with the Emergency Manager of the Year award by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) and the Northeast States Emergency Consortium (NESEC).
“The recipient of this award, the gravity of who is part of this award, and all the backing that goes into it with all the state directors, is super meaningful,” said RIEMA Director Marc Pappas, who presented the award. “Chief Razza has gone above and beyond in proving himself to be worthy of this prestigious award.”
The award was presented by RIEMA in conjunction with NESEC – a 501(c)3 all hazards emergency management organization that develops, promotes and coordinates comprehensive all hazards emergency management and resiliency activities throughout the northeast.
Chief Razza serves as both police chief and as Johnston’s emergency management director. According to Pappas, during the past year, Chief Razza opened the largest and most productive local Covid-19 vaccination center in the state.
“Chief Razza raised his hand and set up an amazingly effective vaccination site serving all of northern Rhode Island. His ability to pull together a team from the whole community in one united effort was outstanding and was the reason why that vaccination site was so successful,” said Pappas. “There were countless vaccinations given at that site, and his vaccine site was one to emulate.”
In addition to operating vaccination clinics, during this time period, Chief Razza also worked to complete Johnston’s hazard mitigation plan, which is approved by FEMA. Pappas said that Razza was one of the most successful EMA directors for the state in being able to recover funding for COVID-19 operations. He added that the vote to present Razza with this year’s award was unanimous.
“It was also during this time that Rhode Island experienced the blizzard of 2022, and not only did the chief cover his town, but he went over and above and reached out to us at the state’s emergency operations center to offer himself if we found ourselves short staffed,” said Pappas. “Chief Razza understands partnerships and team effort are the way to manage a disaster. He is a true leader as a police chief and as an emergency management director.”
Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, who helped present the award, echoed Director Pappa’s sentiments.
“It is always pleasure to work with Chief Razza,” she said.
While admitting that understanding RIEMA’s usage of acronyms might be the most challenging part of his job as director, Razza said he was “flabbergasted” to receive such recognition.
“I am truly honored, but more than that I’m truly humbled. Quite frankly, I’ve learned this through my predecessors, and it’s a position that requires a lot of work,” said Razza. “You don’t know when it’s going to be used, but I will tell you this, it’s integral to any community that they have an emergency director who can do what they need to do in a crisis.”
Having worked closely with the chief during vaccination clinics and other emergencies, Mayor Joseph Polisena was quick to praise the chief’s outstanding work and dedication
“Chief Razza has done an incredible job as our EMA director, and quite frankly he is the best EMA director in the state. He has worked hard and he has kept the people safe, whether it was during the pandemic or whether it was through floods, he has done a great job,” said Polisena. “There is no one else that’s better than Chief Razza when it comes to EMA and being a police chief. He’s the very best, and the residents of this town are extremely lucky to have him.”
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