The RITE stuff

Paw­tucket, C.F. po­lice of­fi­cers re­ceive di­ver­sity train­ing

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JONATHAN BIS­SON­NETTE jbis­son­nette@paw­tuck­et­

CEN­TRAL FALLS – Of­fi­cers from the Cen­tral Falls and Paw­tucket po­lice de­part­ments on Thurs­day and Fri­day par­tic­i­pated in a rig­or­ous two-day course to ed­u­cate them on racial bi­ases and how to appropriat­ely han­dle high-pres­sure sit­u­a­tions.

The de­part­ments over the two days at the Wy­att De­ten­tion Fa­cil­ity Train­ing Cen­ter par­tic­i­pated in a Racial In­tel­li­gence Train­ing and En­gage­ment, or RITE, “train-the-trainer” course, which served as a way to ed­u­cate the de­part­ments on cul­tural di­ver­sity through a new lens, iden­ti­fy­ing “im­plicit bias” and im­prov­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion to deesca­late high pres­sure sit­u­a­tions.

RITE co-founders Randy Fried­man and Linda Webb dur­ing the two-day course trained the of­fi­cers to be aware of their emo­tions, as­sert­ing that the train­ing fo­cuses on what the of­fi­cer feels so he or she can im­prove their re­ac­tions, which in turn will re­duce use-of-force in­ci­dents.

“It’s in­cred­i­bly valu­able and what makes our course so dif­fer­ent is we’re teach­ing emo­tional in­tel­li­gence first – what am I feel­ing, what am I think­ing be­fore I en­gage in oth­ers,” Fried­man said. “One of the miss­ing links for de-es­ca­la­tion train­ing is how we get through to the of­fi­cer on the street is by get­ting them per­son­ally. We’re teach­ing them tools on how to bet­ter them­selves be­cause if you im­prove the of­fi­cer, you im­prove the de­part­ment which im­proves com­mu­nity trust.”

RITE was founded nearly two years ago af­ter Fried­man – who pre­vi­ously worked in cor­po­rate and ath­let­ics train­ing, and Webb – who worked for more than 35 years in law en­force­ment, saw “all that was hap­pen­ing in the me­dia, all the de­part­ments blow­ing up, of­fi­cers get­ting into trou­ble, one of­fi­cer tak­ing a whole de­part­ment down. It didn’t sit well.”

With this “train-the-trainer” course, once the of­fi­cers are cer­ti­fied in racial in­tel­li­gence, they’re cer­ti­fied to take that in­for­ma­tion back to their re­spec­tive de­part­ments and roll out the train­ing to all of their of­fi­cers in Paw­tucket and Cen­tral Falls.

Fried­man said her def­i­ni­tion of “racial in­tel­li­gence” is the prac­tice of us­ing emo­tional, so­cial in­tel­li­gence and the tools de­vel­oped to treat one’s self and oth­ers more fairly. Im­plicit bias, she says, is es­sen­tially a hid­den bias

that one may or may not be aware of that they have had for a long time.

One ex­am­ple of “im­plicit bias” from the two-day course came from an of­fi­cer who said that a per­son grow­ing up in his fam­ily was a “stupid drunk” and he said that he can tol­er­ate “fun drunks” but that he could not stand those who go on ram­pages while un­der the in­flu­ence.

“My im­plicit bias is han­dling calls that are with ‘stupid drunks’ and I re­al­ize now that … I prob­a­bly es­ca­lated the call un­know­ingly and now I re­al­ize I can han­dle it dif­fer­ently,” Fried­man re­called the of­fi­cer say­ing.

Since start­ing about two years ago, RITE has en­gaged with ap­prox­i­mately 50 de­part­ments nationwide and Fried­man said that the re­sults have been “in­cred­i­ble.”

“It takes 21 days min­i­mum to change a habit, any­thing you’re im­ple­ment­ing new does take a bit of time,” she said. “One of the big­gest dif­fer­ences with our train­ing is that we give the of­fi­cers tools and the tools that we al­low them to not just learn in the class but be­yond the class to use this in­for­ma­tion.”

One of the tools seen in the class­room on Thurs­day and Fri­day was the “RITE Emo­tional Lad­der,” an 18rung lad­der that has 18 dif­fer­ent emo­tions. At the top of the lad­der are emo­tions such as love, grat­i­tude, and joy and to­ward the bot­tom are jeal­ousy, guilt, and fear.

“Noth­ing good ever hap­pens at the bot­tom of the lad­der,” Fried­man said.

Paw­tucket Po­lice Lt. Bob DaSilva said the two-day course was ben­e­fi­cial “in that it fo­cuses on the in­di­vid­ual of­fi­cers’ emo­tional and so­cial in­tel­li­gence.”

“It’s a way to teach of­fi­cers to look at how are they feel­ing with in­ter­act­ing with dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, to take a step back if they find that they are not on the right emo­tional scale and a lot of things af­fect your emo­tions on a daily ba­sis,” DaSilva said. “It could be some­thing at home, it could be a call you just went to ear­lier, it could be a num­ber of things that im­pact how you’re feel­ing and we need to make sure that when we’re in­ter­act­ing with volatile sit­u­a­tions that we have our own emo­tions in check be­fore we make de­ci­sions.”

“It’s a very good pro­gram,” the lieu­tenant con­tin­ued. “I didn’t re­ally know what to ex­pect when we first came in. Any­thing that can make a de­part­ment stronger and bet­ter in deal­ing with peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, it’s worth look­ing at … We’ll be tak­ing this back to our de­part­ment to share with the rest of the de­part­ment.”

Cen­tral Falls Po­lice Chief Col. James J. Men­donca said “in this post-Fer­gu­son en­vi­ron­ment many peo­ple have lost con­fi­dence in the po­lice. This train­ing is just an­other shin­ing ex­am­ple of our agen­cies stead­fast com­mit­ment to ef­fect pos­i­tive change by find­ing new and in­no­va­tive ways to strengthen re­la­tion­ships with the com­mu­nity we serve.”

“This train­ing places of­fi­cer well­ness at the fore­front – be­cause when you help an of­fi­cer be a bet­ter per­son, the pro­fes­sion ben­e­fits as well and as a re­sult con­fi­dence is ex­pect­edly re­newed,” Men­donca added.

Linda Webb, left, con­ducts a seminar with mem­bers of the Paw­tucket and Cen­tral Falls law en­force­ment com­mu­nity at the Wy­att De­ten­tion Cen­ter.

Pho­tos by Ernest A. Brown

RIGHT: Linda Webb, co­founder of RITE Acad­emy, left, con­ducts a seminar with law en­force­ment of­fi­cers from Paw­tucket and Cen­tral Falls at the Wy­att De­ten­tion Cen­ter train­ing fa­cil­ity Fri­day.

Photo by Ernest A. Brown

Mem­bers of the Paw­tucket and Cen­tral Falls po­lice de­part­ments take part in a de-es­ca­la­tion seminar at the Wy­att De­ten­tion Cen­ter Train­ing fa­cil­ity in Cen­tral Falls Fri­day morn­ing.

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