Mobile crisis intervention team a winning solution

On Sept. 26, on behalf of 54 and 55 Division, I was invited to participate in a presentation to the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) in support of the Toronto East General Hospital application for a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT).  The MCIT is dedicated to the dignified treatment of emotionally disturbed persons in crisis. The funding has been approved.

By partnering law enforcement and the medical profession, this unit strives to assist individuals while enhancing support to frontline service.  This unique opportunity was a direct result of the energy, determination and acumen of City Councillors Mary Fragedakis and Janet Davis. Their ability to coordinate service delivery, community expectations and client needs was much needed and appreciated.

55 and 54 Division strongly support the Toronto East General Hospital application for an MCIT.

The Toronto Police Service is committed to working in collaborative partnerships like the MCIT to ensure we are delivering police services which are sensitive to the needs of our community.  One of our priorities speaks to our focus on people with distinct needs, which include those with mental illness.

I have been a champion of the MCIT for much of my 30 year police career. In 1999 I was a patrol sergeant at 52 Division and was introduced to the St. Michael’s Hospital MCIT pilot program. In 2003, I was a staff sergeant at 51 Division and in 2006 I took over responsibility for the officers assigned to the St. Mike’s MCIT.

Our MCIT partnership was amazing. Everyone won. St. Mike’s had fewer patients attending their ER.  The police had less strain on resources due to a reduction in EDP (emotionally disturbed person) apprehensions, EDP calls for service and hospital wait times.  The clients got better service because of early intervention, street triage and timely referrals.

In 2009 I worked with Deputy Federico and Superintendent Gottschalk while at Community Mobilization and we expanded MCIT service delivery to four hospitals.

In 2011 I was unit commander of Court Services and supported the establishment of the Mental Health Court 102 in partnership with the  Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.  I strongly believe a jail cell is not a suitable venue for a client suffering from apparent mental illness.

Currently, the TPS has committed to four MCIT teams which service 10 of our 17 Divisions.  In 2011, our Service was dispatched to approximately 20,000 calls involving persons with mental illness, resulting in over 8,000 persons being apprehended.  Absent of an MCIT, members of 54 and 55 Division were dispatched to over 2,000 of these calls.

The 54 and 55 Division boundaries are defined as Eglinton Avenue, the Don River, Victoria Park and Lake Ontario – approximately 260,000 people reside in this catchment area.

Today the average wait time for an EDP apprehension taken to the Toronto East General Hospital is 104 minutes – and this doesn’t include dispatch, assessment, transport and the subsequent report writing.

The MCIT model specific to 54 and 55 Division will benefit the community, the client and the healthcare System by:

• Diversion from emergency departments;
• Reducing incidents of harm;
• Providing referrals, resources and ongoing support;
• Enhancing knowledge for first responders; and
• Decreasing police wait times.

We are committing two police officers, one equipped police car, mobile communications, office space, training, governance, experience and command support.

The duties of a police officer are clearly articulated in the Police Services Act: crime prevention, law enforcement, assistance to victims, public order and emergent response.  We are very good at situational crime prevention, enforcement, and public order.

We derive our authority under the Police Services Act, Provincial Adequacy Standards and Inquest Recommendations. Specifically, the Mental Health Act provides for the control, apprehension, detention and treatment of emotionally disturbed persons.

With competing City and Provincial budget pressure, juxtaposed with increased demands on our resources, the TPS is turning to multi-agency collaboration to address many emerging challenges. We have become reliant on many partnerships, to fulfill our service delivery mandate specific to victims of crime.

To that end, the Toronto Police Service has realized a considerable benefit to service delivery, client support and safe timely resolution to a crisis. The MCIT partnership speaks to this commitment.

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