New Hamilton support team consists of police, paramedics, health workers, advocates

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Published April 12, 2022 at 3:42 pm

New Hamilton community support team consists of police, paramedics, health workers, advocates
Hamilton now has a community support team that will work with those who are homeless, experiencing mental illness, and struggling with addiction. (file photo)

Hamilton now has a community support team that will offer case management to those who are homeless, experiencing mental illness, and struggling with addiction.

The creation of the Rapid Intervention Support Team (RIST) was announced on Tuesday (Apr. 12) as part of a provincial funding announcement that will see the Hamilton Police Service (HPS) receive an additional $8.2 million.

RIST will work as a collaboration between local police and paramedics, Wesley Urban Ministries, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Canadian Mental Health Association Hamilton, Hamilton Regional Indian Centre, YMCA, and Interval House Hamilton.

“We have heard loud and clear that police are not the experts on many of the social issues facing our community,” said police chief Frank Bergen. “By seeking out partnerships, we’re bringing in specialists to help us provide in the moment support to some of our most marginalized community members.”

Police say RIST will be made up of a program coordinator, police officer, paramedic, Indigenous community liaison worker, women’s shelter worker, and specialists in housing, addiction, mental health, and youth.

The plan is for RIST to meet daily to discuss new referrals and high acuity clients and delegate tasks to the most appropriate agency.

In addition to responding to referrals and supports, RIST is expected to proactively engage high-priority populations through regular visits to drop-in centres and shelters.

The team will operate seven days a week, according to police.

RIST will receive $1.4 million over three years. Police say the additional $6.7 million maintains funding for 13 officers from the Crisis Outreach and Support Team (COAST), Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT), and Social Navigator Program (SNP) and increases funding for three additional officers in the SNP.

Beginning in late spring, SNP will be expanded to include two youth officers and the addition of two civilian support roles to work directly with high acuity youth in the community and connect them to community and social services.

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