REGINA – Local police now have a new resource to help them appropriately handle mental health calls.
In the past, even Police Chief Troy Hagen admits the response was lacking.
“We do the best we can to secure their safety and their well-being, by typically that’s where it would have ended,” said Hagen. “I don’t think it yielded very good results for those in need.”
The health ministry has contributed $235,000 to the new initiative, something Health Minister Dustin Duncan has already seen success with in Saskatoon.
“The only option when the police service does show up to provide some assistance, up until now, is the emergency room,” he said. “It’s been the only option available, or police custody.”
The new crisis team combines a senior officer with a mental health expert and aims to provide vulnerable people with the resources to address the urgent crisis, as well as lay groundwork for the future.
They go directly to the person in need and try and intervene on scene, wherever that may be.
“We determine what’s going on, spend as much time as we need with that person and we evaluate from both sides what happens next,” explained Sgt. Colleen Hall.
It’s something Kyle Moffat thinks could have helped his father, Wade. He took his own life in August.
“Any change is good change. It’s a victory. It’s great. One less person dealing with this situation,” Moffat said.
The Moffats called the police multiple times for their father and would have appreciated the expertise the crisis team provides.
“It means so much just to have somebody that’s professional there, able to say, I understand what’s going on here, this is how we’re going to handle this. Here’s who we’re going to call and also be able to judge how severe the incident is,” Kyle said.
Since starting in September, the duo has assisted 41 people in need. They have another 99 on their radar that they’re hoping to pro-actively check in on.
But with limited resources, their hands are tied.
“We can only be here for a nine hour workday. We know that’s not enough and we know that there’s not enough hours in a day. There’s people we’d like to get to and we can’t,” said social worker Jess Barre.
The police force is already looking into the feasibility of adding another team.