Date: Monday, January 30, 2023

Victoria, BC – VicPD, in partnership with Island Health, has launched the Co-Response Team (CRT) – a central response resource for calls involving presumed mental health issues. This new program pairs a registered mental health clinician with a police officer to respond together to calls for service in Victoria and Esquimalt that involve a significant mental health component.

The Island Health & VicPD Co-Response Team partners a mental health clinician with a VicPD officer trained in trauma-informed approaches

Operating from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week, this new team expands and increases the mental health response continuum, adding to the existing interdisciplinary Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams, the Integrated Mobile Crisis Response Team (IMCRT) and the peer-led, non-police community-based Peer Assisted Care Teams (PACT). The CRT is modelled on the successes of similar programs, with an increased focus on enhancing the front-line patrol response needed in Victoria and Esquimalt.

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

“These collaborative efforts aim to reduce harm to people in crisis, the community and clinical mental health staff,” said Island Health Board Chair Leah 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.”

“When people are in crisis because of mental health or substance use challenges, they need to be met with care and compassion,” says Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “The new Co-Response Team in Victoria will support people in distress and connect them to the help they need and deserve.”

VicPD officers with CRT have specialized training in responding to and supporting people through client-centered, trauma-informed approaches and de-escalation. They work in an integrated team approach alongside registered clinicians who are mental health specialists. Together, they will 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.

The CRT is already having a positive impact by providing service that frees up Patrol resources, either through direct response or taking over continuity of care after a person has been transported to hospital for a mental health assessment. The result is that the Patrol officers can return to the road to respond to 911 calls for service much more quickly and that the person in need has immediate access to registered clinician with mental health expertise and the support of a police officer to help ensure their safety while they await assessment.


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