Dedicated mental health team operating in Prince Albert, Sask.

The goal of the Prince Albert police and crisis team is to provide the right care to people who are better served in the community. Darrel Patton/Global News

How police respond to calls for people experiencing a mental health crisis in a northern Saskatchewan city will change with the launch of a new team.

The Prince Albert police and crisis team (PACT) will pair health care professionals with police officers in a mobile team, similar to PACT teams already in place in Regina and Saskatoon.

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The goal is to provide the right care to people, avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits, and entry into the justice system.

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PACT units are a good example of how police and health can work together to ensure that people who are experiencing a mental health crisis get appropriate help,” said Christine Tell, Saskatchewan’s corrections and policing minister.

“This benefits not only the person in crisis, but communities overall.”

READ MORE: Saskatoon police share results of dedicated mental health team

Between April 2017 and June 2018, PACT units in Saskatoon intervened in 922 calls, and diverted 234 patients from the emergency department. In Regina, PACT provided 658 interventions resulting in 192 fewer emergency room patients.

“The existing PACT initiatives have demonstrated that they provide real time front-line resources to people in need while diverting and reducing emergency room visits and wait times that would have otherwise fell on general police members,” said acting Prince Albert police chief Jon Bergen.

“Specialized staff from both police and health will ensure we connect people in crisis with the right resources, in the time of need, all while ensuring efficiencies for patients and partners are achieved.”

READ MORE: Saskatoon police PACT program saving courts, hospitals money

Prince Albert police has committed two officers to PACT, which became operational earlier in October.

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PACT is a joint collaboration between the Saskatchewan government, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and the Prince Albert Police Service.

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