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Partners sought for Calgary mobile community crisis response unit

Calgary police and the City of Calgary are moving forward with a six-month pilot project and are calling on local agencies to partner with them.

The Community Mobile Crisis Response Teams will provide support to people in need of urgent support due to mental or emotional distress, conflict or safety concerns. It will be funded through the Community Safety Investment Framework.

According to information provided by the City and the Calgary Police Service (CPS), teams of two civilian support workers will be dispatched through the Distress Centre Calgary/211 to provide the support.

Earlier this month, the CPS provided an update on their call diversion progress. Since Calgary 911 call takers began the call diversion strategy in February, nearly 250 calls were sent to the Distress Centre.

For the first three months, CPS will provide support for the mobile teams.

“Supporting the needs of those who reach out for help due to mental or emotional distress requires a coordinated effort from the community and government partners,” said Calgary Neighbourhoods Director Melanie Hulsker, in a prepared release.

“This next step in transforming crisis response provides an exciting opportunity to partner with community agencies to create hope and strengthen support for Calgarians.”

Program will begin in the fall

Social agencies that have the ability to deliver the 24/7 crisis response have been asked to submit a letter of intent. 

This fall, the teams will be dispatched to calls in pilot communities. These communities will be determined by greatest need and where wraparound services can be provided, the City said. 

CPS said it will continue to divert calls where a police response isn’t required.

“There are many layers to supporting the overall crisis response Calgarians have asked for,” said Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld.

“We’ve told you about the recent successes of the Call Diversion and Co-Location project and this is taking that model one step further to ensure people get the help they need not only when they need it, but where, too.”

The result of the pilot program will be assessed after the six months. It may eventually be expanded citywide, the City said.