Providence Police Department awarded 700K in funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Smart Policing Initiative: Smart Policing Innovation Grant
Providence, RI: The Providence Police Department, in partnership with The Providence Center and Roger Williams University, announce that they are one of only a handful of police departments nationwide that were selected to receive the FY17 Smart Policing Initiative: Smart Policing Innovation Grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance. This grant will fund efforts by the Providence Police Department (PPD) and The Providence Center to formulate a Behavioral Health Response Team (BHRT) that will work to develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce recidivism in the use of emergency services by those suffering from alcohol or drug addiction and mental health issues. Captain Dean Isabella, Commanding Officer of the Special Projects Unit, serves as Administrator for this program and Jessica D. Zira, MA, QMHP of The Providence Center will serve as Project Coordinator.
Additionally, Doctors Sean Varano and Stephanie Manzi from Roger Williams University will also partner with the PPD, conducting research and analysis of this three-year project. The grant award of $700,000 will be used to fund outreach services, additional clinical services, officer training and data collection in an effort to develop new strategies to help chronic users of emergency services that deplete a significant amount of already limited resources. The goal of the program is to create methods to divert people with habitual drug, alcohol or mental health issues away from the criminal justice system whenever possible in order to more effectively stem the habitual use of all types of emergency services.
“This grant will provide our officers the resources they need to more appropriately help those who are suffering from addiction or are undergoing a mental health crisis,” said Mayor Elorza. “With the help of our partners, we are integrating a data-driven approach that positions the City at the forefront of this public health crisis.”
“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 to avoid incarceration,” said Commissioner Paré. “We look forward to continuing this work along with Roger Williams University to collect and analyze data to move forward in our efforts when dealing with situations that involve this vulnerable population within our city.”
“We are pleased to expand our existing collaboration with the Providence Police Department and start a new partnership with Roger Williams University in this important Smart Policing Initiative,” said Deborah M. O’Brien, The Providence Center’s president. “Police departments and other first responders spend an inordinate amount of time working with individuals who have behavioral health issues. If we can provide these same individuals with timely treatment and supports, we can improve health outcomes for them and allow police to focus on issues that impact more directly on public safety.”
“The Providence Police Department has a deep history of working in partnership with community agencies to implement innovative approaches to crime and related public health problems. This award, particularly in such a competitive grant environment, is a strong recognition of this history,” said Dr. Sean Varano. “Many officers throughout the ranks recognize the need to think more creatively about crime responses beyond arrest-only strategies. Roger Williams University is proud to be part of this partnership.”