Toronto Police are expanding the Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams(MCITs) program in which a nurse and a specially trained police officer help those experiencing mental health crises who come into contact with police.
The service has introduced a new team that will cover 32 Division and 33 Division, bringing the total number of teams in the city to 6. The plan, however, is to expand the territories of all six teams so that every police division in the city of Toronto is covered.
The new team is working in partnership with North York General Hospital, but there are also teams at Humber River Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre, St. Michael’s Hospital, The Scarborough Hospital and Toronto East General.
“The Toronto Police Service has worked hard with its health-sector partners to build up a network of Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams across Toronto. They have one purpose: provide the best possible help and support to those experiencing a mental health crisis. I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to all our partners for their dedication and commitment.” Said Deputy Chief Mike Federico who made the announcement on Monday.
The Deputy Chief took the time to stress that MCITs do not respond to calls regarding individuals who are intoxicated on drugs or alcohol, or people who are violent or armed with weapons.
The Toronto Police Service came under fire last July after 18-year-old Sammy Yatim was shot and killed by a police officer while he was brandishing a weapon on a Dundas streetcar. Many in the community wondered why a MCIT had not been dispatched. The team covering the area of the shooting had already gone home with the shift ending at 11p.m., but police stressed that in such a volatile situation, the team would not have been brought in to handle the armed teenager. Still many have called for the teams to be made available 24/7.
In 2011 Toronto Police officers were dispatched to 20,000 calls related to mental illness.