VicPD have teamed up with Island Health to better respond to service calls involving people struggling with mental health and substance-use issues.

The new co-response team (CRT) will see VicPD officers paired with registered mental health clinicians to respond in Victoria and Esquimalt.

The partnership between Island Health and the Victoria Police Department will operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and officially launched today.

“VicPD has long advocated for resources to help improve our response to mental health calls,” said police Chief Del Manak in a statement.

“This is an initiative that will ensure the citizens of Victoria and Esquimalt have a high level of both mental health care and safety when officers respond to mental health calls, and that our frontline officers can remain focused on responding to calls where police should lead, such as preventing and investigating crime, and maintaining public safety.”

Leah Hollins, board chair with Island Health, said the program aims to reduce harm to people in crisis and to the community overall.

“These collaborative efforts aim to reduce harm to people in crisis, the community and clinical mental health staff,” said Hollins.

“These services provide rapid interventions, connect people with services and aim to reduce a person’s involvement with emergency health services, the criminal justice system and law enforcement.”

According to VicPD, officers with specialized CRT training will work with registered clinicians to assess and manage the situation, deciding on the most appropriate action, which may include referrals for community-based mental health follow-up or emergency intervention.

Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said the new CRT team will support people in distress and “connect them to the help they need and deserve.”


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