Amherstburg Police Service to appoint mental health officer

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Police Service will soon have a specially assigned mental health officer.

Chief Tim Berthiaume said the police department gets roughly $170,000 in grants annually with the province asking that money be re-purposed. The officer, who has yet to be appointed, will be a full-time officer in that position, receive special training and work in collaboration with the LaSalle Police Service and Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.

It will be a redistribution of current resources, the services stated in a tweet Tuesday morning.

“We’re hoping the officer will start April 1 in their new role,” said Berthiaume.

Police carWEB

The chief said the idea behind having a full-time mental health officer would be to reduce calls for service and allow the Amherstburg Police Service to be proactive. The officer would meet with people in the community, give them options and advise them about what services there are available.

The officer would also be able to build and maintain relationships with people who may need mental health resources, Berthiaume added.

Berthiaume stated they have been tracking mental health calls for the last three years and there has been a “steady incline” in the amount of calls that Amherstburg police have been receiving. There were 67 mental health related calls in 2016, Berthiaume said, but that number does not include calls with charges. The chief indicated there could be other incidents with a mental health component but classified as something else due to a charge being laid.

Berthiaume added that collaboration with LaSalle police would include the mental health officers covering each other off when the other is unavailable.

The officer is expected to be appointed soon as Berthiaume stated there is a competition within the police service as to who will get the position. Once that officer is assigned, he or she will be given special training to assist them with their new duties that start April 1.

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