Trained crisis workers will begin responding to some police calls in Mississauga and Brampton

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Published September 27, 2022 at 3:25 pm

Starting soon, some calls made to police won’t result in a police officer showing up but a crisis worker instead.

A pilot program launching this week will allow anyone calling Peel Regional Police for a mental health or substance use crisis to receive support from trained crisis workers rather than police officers.

The program launch will be marked this Thursday, Sept. 29 by Peel police, who will be joined by representatives from the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Peel Dufferin, Punjabi Community Health Services, and Roots Community Services.

The new program will “add a critical component to our existing crisis response services,” according to a recent statement from the CHMA.

In June, Peel police unveiled their new Community Safety and Well-Being strategy, with a focus on incidents that can’t be resolved with an arrest or traditional policing — such as issues of mental health, addiction, and homelessness.

As part of the strategy, police have begun partnering with other services in Peel to respond to incidents that have less to do with crime and more to do with complex social issues.

Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah called the strategy a “significant milestone” that will transform policing in Peel.

“The Community Safety and Well-Being framework is based on the idea that it is critical to focus more of our efforts ‘upstream’ to proactively identify and address issues that impact safety and well-being instead of concentrating downstream after an incident requiring police or other crisis-based services has already occurred,” said Duraiappah.

More details regarding the pilot program are expected to be announced on Thursday.

Reports from early 2020 indicate that the number of mental health crisis calls has been steadily climbing in Mississauga and Brampton over the years.

In 2015, Peel police had 4,488 people apprehended under the Mental Health Act, and the numbers climbed to 5,796 in 2019.

It is estimated that in 2017, Peel police spent $1,794,000 in police salaries waiting in emergency rooms with apprehended individuals.

The increasing crisis calls led police to launch the Mobile Crisis Rapid Response Team (MCRRT) in February 2020 to help respond to calls for service where mental health concerns and/or crises are identified.

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