Mobile Response Teams & PACTS
April 16th, 2021. This week we had a victory for the city and the Calgary Alliance. The Calgary Police Service and AHS have agreed to expand the Police and Crisis Team (PACT) and Mobile Response Team (MRT).
What are PACT / MRT teams? The PACT teams consist of a mental health professional and a specially trained police officer. The mobile response teams are made up of mental health professionals. These teams respond to emergencies when having just a police officer simply does not make sense.
The reason for the importance of this expansion may best be demonstrated by a brief story of one of our members of the Calgary Alliance. Several years ago the family made a call to 911 due to a suicidal teen. Five police officers in three vehicles showed up at the home. Because it was 8:30 pm at night a mobile response team was unable to respond so instead the teen was put in the back of a police car and driven to the children's hospital emergency department.
What the teen and the family needed was mental health support not five police officers. These teams allow for the right person, with the right training to respond at the right time which is of benefit to everyone including the individual in crisis, their family, the police and our broader community.
- Calgary Police Services with the City of Calgary have added funding to increase PACT by 6 more teams.
- They will extend their hours to cover crisis response from 0600 – 0400 every day of the year.
- Calgary Police and City of Calgary have also provided funding to expand the hours for the MRT consult lines. This means MRT will be available for phone consults 24 hours/day, every day for Calgary police officers, professionals and via the Distress Centre for families and individuals. They will be posting those new positions in the next week or so and this will likely start by the end of July.
These are new changes that will help Calgarians where they need it - and when they need it - with the right people showing up to respond to emergencies. The expansion of the PACT and MRT teams means that when people are in a mental health crisis, instead of having just police officers showing up - the right people with the right training will be there.
It was a long road to get here. It took people who participating in the listening sessions from the last year and a half, all the attendees at our Fall Assembly where the CPS made the commitment, our Municipal Campaign Team (who wrote, emailed, and spoke to city councillors during the 2020 budget discussion at the city), and our Mental Health Research Action Team who has been leading the charge in working with AHS and the Calgary Police. We also want to express our gratitude to Dick Ridley and the Mobile Response Team with the Alliance who have been advocating for this work and taking a leadership role.
One element of our work is celebrating when institutions - like the Calgary Police and AHS - when they do good. For their role in reacting to our campaign, for stepping up to make these investments, we offer a hearty congratulations and now are focused on ensuring they follow through with their commitments to bettering our neighbourhoods and community.