Providence Police get grant to hire 20 officers

MAYOR BRETT P. SMILEY announced Monday that the Providence Police Department received a $2.5 Million Community Oriented Policing Hiring Program Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. / PBN FILE PHOTO/­MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – The Providence Police Department received a $2.5 million Community Oriented Policing Hiring Program grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Mayor Brett P. Smiley announced Monday. 

The award, one of the largest in the country, will go toward strengthening the city’s police force with the hiring of 20 police officers.

“Building stronger community relations is at the core of our efforts to improve our local public safety,” said Smiley. “Our residents have repeatedly expressed wanting to feel safer in their neighborhoods and through this grant, we will be able to hire more officers that can be present and visible in our streets.”

Also on Monday, the city’s police force received a $220,000 COPS Community Policing Development Grant to create a larger training program within the department. The scenario-based training will focus on de-escalation, implicit bias and duty to intervene. 

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The police department will utilize the VirTra virtual reality equipment that has the capability to provide training scenarios in these topics and procure a new service contract with VirTra to enhance current software. 

Funding will be used to pay overtime compensation for officers to complete this training. This grant will ensure officers are able to participate without disrupting daily operational staffing during assigned shifts. 

“The Providence Police Department is dedicated to serving the citizens of Providence to the best of our ability,” said Providence Police Col. Oscar L. Perez Jr.  “A critical part of that work is ensuring our officers are developing skills to avoid confrontation, utilizing de-escalation methods or distraction techniques as often as possible, and helping our officers quickly resolve conflicts.” 

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