The Providence Police Department, in partnership with Roger Williams University and The Providence Center, launches groundbreaking Smart Policing Initiative Behavioral Health Response Team
Providence, RI: The Providence Police Department, in partnership with Roger Williams University and The Providence Center, has launched its groundbreaking Smart Policing Initiative Behavioral Health Response Team (BHRT.) The PPD along with our committed community partners were selected as one of only seven police organizations in the country to be funded for the development of this program. BHRT is a program that was designed to create modern intervention strategies for individuals who have a substantial impact on public safety services, but who should likely be diverted out of the formal criminal justice system.
It is widely understood that in most communities, a relatively small number of individuals often have a disproportionate impact on police and other first responder resources. Individuals with chronic and co-occurring problems such as poverty or untreated mental health and substance abuse problems come into contact with many public health and criminal justice agencies responsible for addressing the needs of underserved populations. The goal of the program is to build on the existing partnership between The Providence Center and the Providence Police Department. The BHRT creates street-level response teams that partner police officers with clinical staff from The Providence Center to respond to the needs of those encountered by police while experiencing psychiatric (emotional or behavioral) emergencies. The new program builds on this existing framework by proactively focusing outreach and treatment services on individuals classified as “high rate utilizers” of police and other emergency services. From a police perspective, particular emphasis will be those with a disproportionately high rate of street encounters for disorderly and public order offenses. This initiative will support the target population by providing intensive outreach and specialized treatment according to needs of population. Roger Williams University has helped develop the data gathering, sharing, and analysis processes which gives the team the ability to measure the effectiveness of the intervention program and make data informed decisions for change.
The partnership between the Providence Police Department and The Providence Center has proven to be invaluable by providing treatment options for individuals who are suffering from drug and alcohol addiction or a mental health crisis and helping them avoid incarceration,” said Commissioner Paré. “We look forward to continuing this work along with Roger Williams University to collect and analyze data to continue improving our efforts when working with this vulnerable population in our city.”