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Toronto police launch mental health and addictions strategy

Toronto police release mental health and addiction strategy
WATCH ABOVE: After three years of planning, Toronto police have released a strategy targeted at improving interactions with the community while helping those on the frontline deal with mental health issues. Shallima Maharaj reports.

TORONTO – The Toronto Police Service is promising to better train its officers to treat people experiencing mental health crises and addiction with compassion.

The service makes the commitment in a new strategy for mental health and addictions it launched today.

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The strategy was developed with the city’s police services board, its former mental health sub-committee and an external advisory panel.

The service says officer training will focus on de-escalation techniques, bias-free policing, risk assessment, and mental health and addictions awareness.

READ MORE: Ottawa police officer dies by suicide

It will also teach harm-reduction principles, which aim to mitigate the negative effects of drug use without requiring abstinence.

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The strategy also commits to updating training materials with ongoing input from community members who have lived experience of mental health and addiction issues.