Healthy minds for healthy lives

Community Diversion

The Providence Center is committed to the health and safety of our communities, and a unique partnership with the Providence Police DepartmentWarwick Police Department, and West Warwick Police Department makes that happen.

The program started in 2012 when TPC police clinician Jessica Zira joined the Providence Police Department. After that program was successful, TPC worked with Warwick Police to identify a need for services there, and brought on Maureen Gouveia to serve that city in 2014.  Clinician Heather Seger started in the West Warwick PD in early 2017.

Providence Center clinicians ride along with police officers to respond to individuals in psychiatric or substance use crises. Working together to address these crises need ensures that people in need get the right amount of care. On the scene, the clinician de-escalates the situation conducts a clinical assessment on site to arrive at the most appropriate recommendation for their care and safety. In many cases, a referral to The Providence Center’s Crisis Stabilization Unit, a hospital or other community agency provides a more effective alternative solution.

In addition to their day-to-day duties, Zira and Gouveia have worked to bring a great deal of knowledge to their respective departments. Gouveia chairs a monthly meeting that brings officers designated mental health specialists together to talk about strategies for responding to a person undergoing a psychiatric crisis. In West Warwick, Seger's work as Behavioral Health Navigator focuses on outreach surrounding the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.

Zira helped to roll out 15 four-hour mental health trainings for the entire Providence Police Department (500 officers), through paid overtime from a federal grant. The training may become mandatory for all police officers in Rhode Island in the future. Both Zira and Gouveia also run trainings for new recruits at both police academies.

"The partnership has been positive for all: Jessica is able to connect people who need it most to treatment, and the officers gain a greater understanding about how to deal with people in a mental health or substance use crisis and avoid unnecessary arrests," said Colonel Hugh T. Clements, Jr., Chief of Police, pictured above with Providence Center clinician Jessica Zira.

“Maureen’s work has been a great asset to our department,” said Warwick Police Chief Stephen McCartney. “Getting people involved with the right mental health services helps them find a better path, and makes our job in the community much easier.”

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