Calgary Police Service looking to formalize mental health strategy
The strategy put out in Vancouver is the second of its kind in the country
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The Calgary Police Service said they’re working on their very own mental health strategy—and have been for some time—following the release of the Vancouver Police Department’s strategy earlier this month.
The strategy put out in Vancouver is the second of its kind in the country, alongside the Ontario Provincial Police and focuses on how to de-escalate situations involving people with mental illness and addiction issues.
Deputy Chief Bob Ritchie sat down with Metro Wednesday to discuss the work being done by CPS and the hurdles they must overcome to make this strategy a reality in Calgary.
“There are a lot of things within our day-to-day policing environment, current initiatives and strategies we may or may not have, and what Vancouver has done is put it all together in a formal document and is guiding their activities from that point forward,” he said.
Ritchie said he gives “kudos” to the VPD for taking that step and “would support our police service doing something similar.”
One initiative that CPS has already started, according to Ritchie, is the creation of their own Mental Health Advisory Committee.
“It’s a two-pronged approach to mental health; so the first being support for our officers and civilian employees,” he said. “The second prong is an external facing and that’s what we’re looking at now in terms of what mental health initiatives we have or what other agencies have and benchmark what are some of the things we could improve on.”
Furthermore, Ritchie said formalizing a strategy would help CPS better deal with Form 10 apprehensions under the Mental Health Act, which allows police to take an emotionally-distressed person who poses a risk to themselves or others into custody.
Although CPS saw a dip in the rate of Form 10 apprehensions last year, they said there has ultimately been a consistent increase over the last five years.
In 2016 Form 10s have averaged 100 per week or 14 per day, meaning roughly one in five calls result from a mental health concern and more than half from a suicide attempt.
“At the end of the day we want to be able to say we have a strategy to manage mental health concerns in our community,” he said. “There has been work that has taken place and one of our committees priorities is to formalize that strategy to use as a guiding principal for what we do.”