These two cops helped homeless man in Mississauga ‘rebuild his life’
Published May 16, 2022 at 2:42 pm
A chance meeting in Mississauga last year with two Peel Regional Police officers has turned around the life of a man who not long ago was homeless and without a job.
The story also illustrates the value of a relatively new type of policing in Peel, “the new frontier of policing,” local cops say.
Divisional Mobilization Units (DMU) were created last year at the four Peel police divisions–11 and 12 divisions in Mississauga and 21 and 22 divisions in Brampton.
Essentially, police say, the DMUs connect people and priority populations with immediate resources, thereby reducing habitual calls and unnecessary police interactions.
“This is the new frontier of policing and what we’re trying to do as unit, as part of community safety and well-being, is we’re trying to get people connected with resources at the time that they need it, rather than at the end,” said Peel police Const. Richard Chin, a member of the 22 Division DMU and one of the two officers to help the homeless man in Mississauga late last year.
Chin and Const. Abigail Langton were patrolling on foot a popular Mississauga area on a cold day last October when they met a man who appeared to be homeless and suffering from frostbite on his leg.
“While speaking with him, we came to know quickly that he had been living on the streets for some time and that he couldn’t get into a shelter,” said Langton. “His health card was expired and, therefore, he couldn’t get his COVID-19 vaccinations or treatment for his wounds.”
Langton and Chin quickly connected the man to services through St. Leonard’s Place Peel, a community-based non-profit organization that supports men ages 18 and over who have experienced homelessness, mental health and addiction issues.
Within days, the man was able to renew his health card and get treatment for his injuries, police say.
At the same time as Langton and Chin connected the man with community services, they also arranged for him to get his COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Being vaccinated allowed him to dine inside a restaurant—something that was particularly important to him because he was able to be somewhere warm and it has made a vast difference in his life,” said Langton. “We were also able to secure a temporary shelter for him until a room at St. Leonard’s was available.”
Helping the man connect to vital services and supports allowed him to return to his previous profession in masonry work, police say.
And when he could not afford work boots, the man received a pair of steel-toed footwear from Langton and Chin for his birthday. The two cops had reached out to a vendor who generously donated the boots.
“Since his interaction with the police, he has been rebuilding his life by working part-time jobs and is no longer been living on the streets,” said Chin.
Peel police brass say the story is one of many examples of positive community engagement arising out of the DMUs, which they describe as “…a key resource for addressing issues that cannot be adequately resolved by traditional police response.”
Adds Staff Sergeant Chris Krause, head of the community mobilization unit: “In 2020, as the health situation in Ontario continually evolved, so did the calls for service involving crises in mental health, addiction and homelessness, which were becoming more and more common.”
So, a new focus from police was needed, senior officers say–one that would give police officers on the streets more tools with which to help troubled people they came across while on duty.
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