Hamilton police get $8.2 million for community mental health partnerships

Hamilton Police will receive nearly $8.2 million in funding through the Community Safety and Policing Grant Program. The grant will enhance Hamilton’s Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan, which supports a community-based approach to tackling the root causes of complex social problems.

“We heard loud and clear that the police are not the experts on many of the social issues facing our community. By seeking partnerships, we bring in specialists to help us provide in-the-moment support to some of the most marginalized members of our community,” says Chief Frank Bergen.

The funding will see the establishment of a Rapid Response Support Team (RIST) which combines Hamilton Police, Hamilton Paramedics, Wesley Urban Ministries, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Canadian Health Association Mental Health Centre, the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre, the YMCA and Interval House Hamilton. RIST will provide comprehensive case management for people who are homeless, struggling with mental illness, or struggling with addiction.

The RIST will be made up of a program coordinator, a police officer, a paramedic, an Aboriginal community liaison officer, a women’s shelter worker, as well as specialists in housing, addiction , mental health and youth.

The RIST will meet daily to discuss new referrals, high acuity clients and delegate tasks to the most appropriate agency. In addition to responding to referrals and supports, RIST will also proactively engage high priority populations through regular visits to drop-in centers and shelters. The team will operate seven days a week.

The RIST will receive $1.4 million over three years. The additional $6.7 million maintains funding for 13 COAST, MCRRT and Social Navigator Program (SNP) officers and increases funding for three additional SNP officers. Starting in late spring, the SNP will be expanded to include two youth officers and the addition of two civilian support roles to work directly with high-acuity youth in the community and connect them with community services. and social.

“We thank the Ontario government for recognizing how important it is for agencies to work together to support Hamilton’s most vulnerable citizens. This approach should allow individuals to get the support they need, when they need it most,” says Bergen.

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