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Victoria police and Island Health launch co-response team to respond to mental health calls

The co-response team pairs a police officer with a registered mental health clinician
Victoria Police Chief Del Manak speaking at the launch event for their co-response team with Island Health. (Brendan Mayer/News Staff)

The Victoria Police Department and Island Health have started a new program to improve mental health responses in Victoria and Esquimalt.

A co-response team (CRT) was launched Monday (Jan. 30), pairing a police officer with a registered mental health clinician to respond to mental health calls.

“The CRT allows us to safely get medical professionals right to the front line as a first response,” Victoria Police Chief Del Manak said. “The officers selected for the CRT have been specifically chosen for their care and their experience and have specialized training in responding to and supporting persons through deescalation and client-centered, trauma-informed approaches. The clinical professionals on the CRT have also had specialized training and I commend them for taking on this role.”

The team will work together every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and adds to the Integrated Mobile Crisis Response Team and assertive community treatment and peer-assisted care teams.

“The co-response team will resolve mental health situations collaboratively and in the least-intrusive way when a police response is required,” said Tasha McKelvey, Islands Health’s director for acute access and crisis response services for the South Island. “Our trained mental health-care staff may assist with de-escalation and will seek the involvement of friends and family to help support the person and determine if hospital care or other options are needed.”

VicPD’s budget includes funding for two police positions, and the health authority has received funding from the Ministry of Health for the two mental health workers for the team.

“We recognize in many cases that a person in mental distress does not require police intervention,” Manak said. “Often they are best served by a medical professional, but there is a requirement to keep them and the people around them safe.”

READ MORE: Victoria police board proposes 9.55% budget hike


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Brendan Mayer

About the Author: Brendan Mayer

I spent my upbringing in Saskatoon, and in 2021, I made the move to Vancouver Island.
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