Cranston PD to use federal funding to improve mental health response

CRANSTON – The Cranston Police Department will receive $500,000 to invest in its crisis intervention team program and improve its mental health response.

Representatives from the police department joined Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Mayor Kenneth Hopkins, Thundermist Health Center, Cranston Comprehensive Community Action Program and Gateway Emergency Health Services recently to announce improvements to de-escalation and crisis intervention training for local police officers.

“Rhode Island’s brave law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to serve and protect our state. Police are often first on the scene when someone is dealing with a mental health or behavioral health issue,” Whitehouse said. “Rhode Island departments – especially the Cranston Police – and local mental health partners have shown leadership on this issue for years now, and I’m proud to stand alongside them today.”

Whitehouse helped lead the bipartisan Law Enforcement De-escalation Training Act into law in late December, which provides funding for law enforcement to create and improve their de-escalation and crisis intervention programs. The $500,000 funding for the Cranston Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team will allow the department to invest in its mental health response.

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“This federal funding will have a great impact in expanding our Crisis Intervention Team and our current partnerships with Gateway Mental Health, the Cranston Comprehensive Community Acton Program and Thundermist Health,” said Michael J. Winquist, chief of police for the Cranston Police Department.

Winquist said the Crisis Intervention Team has provided face-to-face follow-up visits with more than 500 individuals experiencing a mental health crisis over the past year.

“Nearly half of these individuals accepted a wide range of services that have improved their lives, created a safer city and reduced the expense associated with repetitive calls to common addresses,” Winquist said. “We look forward to enhancing our partnerships and future success.”

Claudia Chiappa is a PBN staff writer. You may contact her at Chiappa@PBN.com.