There has been some misinformation regarding our request for two additional officers. We are not looking to start our own mental health team of police officers but rather add two additional officers to the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams. There are currently 4 teams that service 320 people and there is only 1 police officer assigned. We are looking to add two more to add the effectiveness of the teams. The 4 ACT teams focus primarily on stabilization & management of ACT clients and the two officers will help with early identification of individuals approaching or in early stage of crisis.
Our goals for this request include crisis prevention, public safety, support and expanded capacity of ACT Team’s and early identification of individuals requiring care.
There have been questions and comments asking “why police”? There is significant overlap of the criminal justice system and health care system. Both police and health care workers have access to information, expertise and resources that leverage mutual strengths. Also, officers are called upon regularly by all 4 ACT Teams to assist and quickly locate clients when necessary. This needs to be further enhanced. The mere presence of police officers lowers risk of undesirable behaviours during assessments resulting in a more accurate assessment of needs.
In 2016, we began to pilot a second officer to work with the ACT teams . We were able to increase coverage to 5 days per week with 12 referrals over a 4.5 month period as opposed to 5 referrals in all of 2015. Of those 12 referrals, 6 were immediately accepted and the remaining persons are actively engaging with the teams and are strong candidates. All 12 people referred have very high frequency police contacts and hospital visits.
What will these 2 additional officers do? They would supplement the 1 current ACT officer, and reduce silos within the systems by integrating across the teams.
For more information regarding our mental health strategy, visit: http://vicpd.ca/node/1358
To learn more about the ACT Teams, visit: http://www.viha.ca/mhas/locations/victoria_gulf/community/act.htm