Photo via RI State Police Facebook Page

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

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

He takes over from Col. James Manni, who is retiring to become town manager of South Kingstown. Manni was appointed by former Gov. Gina Raimondo in 2018.

Weaver, who is Black, is a Marine Corps veteran who has been with 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 bureaus, the specialty units and the Department of Public Safety, according to the state police website.

He has previously served in all the state police barracks and as night executive officer and assistant patrol commander of the Hope Valley and Wickford barracks. He has been a district commander and the officer in charge at the State Police Training Academy.

“It is a stellar accomplishment for Col. Weaver,” said Charles Wilson, a retired Rhode Island College police lieutenant and former chair of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers. “Knowing him as I do, I believe fully that he is more than capable of handling that position. He has the respect of the community and of the officers.”

Wilson has in the past has been critical of 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 past president of the Rhode Island Guardians Association, an organization for law enforcement officers of color in the state, also praised the choice.

A’Vant said he and Weaver did not really have role models that looked like them at the outset of their careers.

“He’s been a positive and a good role model for officers of color and for the community,” A’Vant said. “He understands the issues and concerns that officers of color face during their career.”