May 24, 2019 1:25 pm

Ontario invests in mobile crisis intervention team for St. Thomas

Deputy Premier Christine Elliott, left, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, second from left, Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek, second from right, and St. Thomas police Chief Chris Herridge, right.

Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

A new provincial investment is looking to take a load off of St. Thomas officers.

The Ontario government announced Friday that it would invest about $140,000 to continue funding for a mobile crisis intervention team in St. Thomas.

Half of the money will go toward hiring a mental health worker to work alongside police.

The remaining funds will contribute to hiring a post-court transitional manager, who will focus on helping those with mental illness who have been released on bail, found not guilty or released without detention.

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During Friday’s announcement, Ontario’s deputy premier and minister of health and long-term care Christine Elliott told reporters other cities may see similar funding.

“This is part of the additional $174 million that we’re investing in mental health and addiction services across the province,” Elliot said, “with a total investment, this year, of $6.9 million for mobile crisis teams.”

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The announcement garnered praise from St. Thomas chief of police Chris Herridge, who told 980 CFPL of the relief that it will bring to his fellow officers.

“Our officers are not trained in mental health,” Herridge said. “We receive minimal training, whereas a mental health worker, that is their job.”

Herridge added that he’ll sleep a lot better knowing the city has secured guaranteed funding. The push to see provincial dollars brought locally began after the proceeds of a grant ran out late last year, accroding to Herridge.

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Along with helping officers, Herridge said the mobile crisis intervention team will also help build a bond with the community.

“Sometimes a uniform can be very intimidating,” Herridge.

“When we can call upon a mental clinician to come and assist, it kind of de-escalates the situation.”

The provincial government says it plans to invest $3.8 billion over 10 years in an effort to to develop and implement a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions strategy.

WATCH: (2017) Osgoode Hall appeals to Ontario to mandate de-escalation, crisis intervention tactics for police officers

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