Civilian experts rather than police officers will respond to 911 calls dealing with non-violent mental health crises, under a pilot program approved by Toronto City Council this week. The plan calls for four crisis support teams, responding to calls in different parts of the city.
Its introduction follows incidents of people with mental illness being killed by police, including some instances where there appeared to be no imminent danger to the public or police. Because many of those killed were racialized members of society, the call for reform sprang from protests following the killing of George Floyd last summer.
The new response will involve people trained to de-escalate situations so that police do not need to be brought in to use force. If successful, the program could also have the added benefit of freeing up police officers for other duties and/or allowing reductions in the police budget to fund other community safety measures.
To read all about the programs and the areas where they will be piloted, visit: https://www.toronto.ca/news/city-council-unanimously-approves-community-safety-and-crisis-response-pilots/