Providence police to undergo de-escalation, bias training


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Conversations of police brutality are back in the spotlight, one day after former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd.

In an effort to increase accountability, every member of the Providence Police Department will undergo de-escalation and bias training. Officials say they’re trying to make sure the community knows they’re there for them, and they’re hopeful the move will serve as an agent for change.

“We’re a professional police department but we can only get better,” Chief Hugh Clements said Wednesday.

The effort has been in the works for months and aims to give officers the tools to handle implicit bias, according to Clements. He said up to this point, he believes his department has done a good job, specifically when it comes to handling large protests.

“I think we’ve done well, and they’re fluid events,” he said. “You never know what’s going to take place, not only the number of people, but what type of activity.”

“We’ve seen all these events are global,” Clements added. “We’ll witness an event that may happen in San Jose, California, or Abilene, Texas, and we have to answer it here in Rhode Island.”

Cedric Huntley, executive director of Providence’s Nonviolence Institute, says training is a big part of what they do, which is rooted in providing solutions to unfortunate events of violence.

“It gives those individuals the language and the tools to really think about themselves and how they connect and build relationships,” Huntley explained.

Huntley said that while the training is part of the solution, it’s only a start.

“I don’t believe there’s any winners here,” he said. “We have to continue to do the work and building collaborations and focusing on addressing those issues that bring the outcomes and solutions to the issues that we face.”

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said he’s hopeful the training will help to eliminate bias and build a more inclusive community.

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