Canadian law enforcement leaders discussed their concerns about dealing with people who are mentally ill on the last day of the annual general meeting of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police
on August 21, 2013. CACP President Chief Constable Jim Chu called on governments to provide better treatment and services for mentally ill Canadians.
“Police should not be the front line on mental health issues. Lack of funding in the healthcare system is putting these people on the streets,” Chu said. “We need to shift from a point of crisis to preventing the crisis from occurring in the first place.”
During the last year or two, some Canadian law enforcement groups such as the Toronto Police Service have been studying ways to meet the challenge of dealing with people who are in a state of mental health crisis. CACP says that Canadian police services are investing in officer training and in the development of new models to improve police responses to mentally ill people. Some response units are also using the services of mental health professionals.
CACP amounted that it will launching a joint initiative with the Mental Health Commission called “Balancing Individual Safety, Community Safety and Life Quality: A Conference to Improve Interactions for Persons with Mental Illness” in March, 2014. The initiative will be researching and identifying best practices that will improve interactions between people with mental illness and the police, the legal system, and human services systems such as mental health organizations, and ensure more positive outcomes.
The CACP represents more than 90 percent of Canada’s police community and includes more than 1,000 leaders from all government levels, First Nations, military police, and transportation services.