Hamilton Police Secure $8.2 Million for Mental Health Community Partnerships

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

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

The funding will see the creation of a Rapid Intervention Support Team (RIST) that partners Hamilton Police, Hamilton Paramedics, Wesley Urban Ministries, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Canadian Mental Health Association Hamilton, Hamilton Regional Indian Centre, YMCA and Interval House Hamilton. RIST will offer wraparound case management to those who are homeless, experience mental illness or struggle with addiction.

RIST will be made up of a program coordinator, police officer, paramedic, Indigenous community liaison worker, 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, the RIST will also proactively engage high priority populations through regular visits to drop in centres and shelters. The team will operate seven days a week.

RIST will receive $1.4 million over three years. The additional $6.7 million maintains funding for 13 officers from the COAST, MCRRT and Social Navigator Program (SNP) unit and increases funding for three additional officers in the SNP. Beginning in late spring, 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 to community and social services.

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