Smith, 64, of Narragansett, formerly headed the state’s Emergency Management Agency (2008-2011), and was previously police chief in Westerly and Narragansett. Since he left the EMA in 2011, Smith has been working at Salve Regina University as chairman of the Administration of Justice Program and Graduate Program Director.

Smith’s appointment follows the removal in March of the 911 center’s acting associate director Gregory M. Scungio, after state police learned that Scungio had been training 911 call takers in CPR without proper certification. (Scungio has returned to his previous job as principal project’s manager, said State Police Lieut. Col.  Joseph F. Philbin, the department’s second-in-command.) The discovery followed inquiries about Scungio’s credentials by The Public’s Radio as part of an ongoing examination of emergency medical services in Rhode Island in conjunction with ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network.

“Significant improvements have been made to our E-911 system in recent months, including the hiring of new personnel, the addition of Text-to-911 service and a commitment to added training for 911 operators,’’ Raimondo said in a statement. “I’m pleased to have someone with David’s experience leading our efforts going forward.” 

In announcing Smith’s appointment, the governor’s office said that in the coming months he will implement a new emergency medical dispatch training program for all 911 call takers. The state approved a budget for fiscal 2020, which began July 1, that includes $220,000 to train all 911 call takers to respond to cardiac arrests and other medical emergencies.

The funding for emergency medical dispatch training followed an investigation by The Public’s Radio and ProPublica that raised questions about whether the lack of training for the state’s 911 call takers is costing lives.

State Police Supt. Col. James M. Manni recommended Smith for the job after his department received 72 applicants,  Col. Philbin said, and interviewed a dozen of them, including three from out-of-state.

“Chief Smith is a dedicated public servant with more than 30 years of distinguished service to our state,”  Col. Manni said in a statement. “His public safety experience, education, leadership skills and continued commitment to the people of Rhode Island make him the ideal candidate for this position.”

Smith holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in humanities from Salve Regina University. He is a 1999 graduate of the FBI National Academy and a past president of the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association.

Smith will receive an annual salary of $104,871 and report to Philbin, the department’s second-in-command. Smith is expected scheduled to begin work Sept. 3rd.