Cranston Police Department launches Blue Envelope Program

Posted 6/19/24

Special to the Herald

The Cranston Police Department has launched a new initiative called the Blue Envelope Program. The program went into effect on June 4.

Cranston Police Chief Col. …

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Cranston Police Department launches Blue Envelope Program


Special to the Herald

The Cranston Police Department has launched a new initiative called the Blue Envelope Program. The program went into effect on June 4.

Cranston Police Chief Col. Michael J. Winquist announced the new program on the department’s social media sites. Per the release, the Blue Envelope Program will promote inclusivity as well as serve as an enhanced communication awareness tool between law enforcement and members of the community who have been diagnosed with a disability or conditions like autism spectrum disorder, dementia, anxiety, and other conditions that may require additional awareness or accommodations during interactions with law enforcement.

The design for the program is straightforward and is focused on helping someone who has been diagnosed with disabilities or other conditions, to aid in communication and interaction with law enforcement.

Within the Blue Envelope, a person with a disability or other medical condition, can store vital information, including identification, contact information, and important vehicle documents, such as the car registration and proof of insurance. When coming in contact with law enforcement, providing the envelope to the police should decrease the stress of the encounter. Dutra believes that the blue envelopes will help lower the stress and tension of victims. He said, “Typically this is going to be a very stressful situation, more so for the victims than the police. But once we understand there may be some communication barriers the officers will know to address the situation a bit differently.”

The program was introduced to the Cranston Police Department by Maj. Christopher Reed of the Central Falls Police Department. Reed worked with Cranston officers Capt. Justin Dutra, Sgt. Matthew Josefson, and Detective Michael Iacone worked together to plan and launch the program in Cranston.

It was a fairly quick process to launch the program. The department ordered 500 envelopes for $150.

“We got this up and running in maybe two weeks. It was just the time required for the company to print out the envelopes,” Dutra said. “We thought it would be great to work together to get the program out to the public and gain more exposure.”

Dutra has been involved in Community Outreach for two years, and he said, “These programs spread very quickly and easily. I’m always getting great ideas sent to me through Facebook posts and contacts. As much as it’s coming from the police department, these are ideas that are a true collaboration between people with disabilities, the people who care for them and treat them, and law enforcement and first responders.”

Dutra said that one way he would base the success of the program would be, “How many people actually come in and take advantage of these tools that are out there.”

When asked how officers have reacted to the Blue Envelope program, Dutra said, “Our officers love it.” Dutra added, “it’s a small, small investment that we think can go a long way, and it’s got great information for all motorists.”

According to Col. Winquist, “This program demonstrates the police department’s commitment to improving police interactions with all members of the public.”

The chief added that “the Blue Envelope Program builds upon autism awareness training, coupled with the distribution of seatbelt covers and backpack tags that alert officers of an occupant who may have a disability, such as autism, impacting their ability to communicate.”

Cranston Mayor Kenneth Hopkins is also fully supportive of the program, saying, “The Cranston Police Department has always been a pillar of our community, fostering trust and collaboration through their dedicated service. Their participation in the Blue Envelope Program further underscores their commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of all our residents, especially those with unique communication needs. By embracing initiatives like this, we are building a more inclusive, understanding, and safer community where everyone is respected and valued.”

There will be an evaluation period following implementation.

 “In six months to a year, we will see where we are, how many envelopes we gave out,” Dutra said. “This is not something that’s just going to help someone in Cranston. Rhode Island is so small; you could have somebody in South Kingstown who gets stopped and this information will be passed to an officer there. If it helps with the situation there, it’s a success!”

The Blue Envelopes are available to the public. Dutra said, “They can come to the lobby and just request the envelope. They do not need to show any documentation. They don’t have to be a Cranston resident.” Anyone interested in getting an Envelope can pick them up at the Cranston Police Department Headquarters, 5 Garfield, Ave., Cranston. For people who are interested in autism seatbelt covers, and backpack tags, they can contact Detective Michael Iacone at 401-477-5062.

On June 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Cranston Police Community Outreach Team and Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP) will be having Safety Day in the parking lot behind Cranston High School East and City Hall. The entrance will be Legion Way. At Safety Day, the first 100 kids will get free food, and will also be available for purchase. There will be free bike helmets and reflectors on a first come first serve basis, a bike raffle, where four bikes will be given away, a State Police Rollover Demonstration, Cranston Police vehicles and fire truck, CCAP’s Molar Express, and more.

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