Providence police officers train to respond to mental crisis situations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Experts from local mental health facilities and the Providence Police Department are starting to train the city’s officers in crisis response and intervention.

The training started Tuesday and is running throughout the month of September. Officers are learning how to recognize and respond to individuals in a mental health crisis, including best practices to get people help — instead of jail time.

Among the methods and theories presented Tuesday were “STEP IN,” an acronym for “Safety, Time, Emotions, Proximity; Introduce, Normalize”. While police officers are not expected to be therapists while trying to defuse tense situations, they’re also advised to take care in the actions they do take.

Trainers from the Community Care Alliance and The Providence Center are part of the initiative.

Lt. Kevin Lanni, the director of training, “There’s definitely a lot of tools they can use to just make sure that these [situations] don’t escalate to the point where we have to use force, and then that puts the person at risk that has a mental health issue… This reduces issues. It’s just a lot better for public safety in general.”

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