The Lethbridge Police Service is partnering with Alberta Health Services in our city to help out those who are battling mental health and addiction issues. An LPS constable is paired with a mental health therapist from AHS to service high risk clients. The program, which began in 2018, is called the Police and Crisis Team. Last year, a second PACT team was added to allow more clients access to the program. LPS Constable Derek Williamson says between November of 2021 and February of 2022, a total of 215 files were handled as compared to 64 through the same time a year earlier.
“I believe that the numbers shot up- and at the end of the day these were health calls that we had to deal with. Probably those numbers didn’t change much, but, the difference being that patrol officers are no longer dealing with those calls. They’re being diverted to the PACT team. Myself and my partners Constable Tyler Boras and Sid Wolfe and Marco Ander were able to take those calls and divert them away from patrols to allow them deal with other higher priority incidents.”
“We have a very successful relationship with the Lethbridge Police Service,” says Paul Weiss, Director for Addiction and Mental Health Community Based Services South Zone. “The added resource has provided more opportunities for Addiction and Mental Health services to be provided in the community, as well as helping individuals make connections to other teams and programs.”
A release from the LPS went on to say that the Police and Crisis Team is called out by patrol officers when dealing with a client who would benefit from being connected, or re-connected, with community-based resources including mental and physical health supports, housing and financial assistance. The team also receives calls from other community agencies and can monitor individuals in the short-term until they have connected with appropriate services.
The HealthIM digital platform will launch later this spring and will provide officers with a pre-response safety briefing and support their assessment on whether a person should be transported to a designated facility for evaluation. Police officers have also completed ‘Brain Story Certification,’ an online resource which provides them with knowledge on brain development and the effects that stress and adverse experiences can have on physical and mental health.