The Surrey RCMP’S Outreach Team and the Police Mental Health Intervention Unit have combined to create the new Police Mental Health Outreach Team.
The two teams have amalgamated in an effort “to provide more comprehensive outreach to Surrey’s vulnerable citizens,” according to a news release from Surrey RCMP Wednesday (March 20). The new team, will work out of the Surrey RCMP office on 135A Street and is part of the detachment’s “ongoing commitment to reduce crime through prevention, education, intervention and enforcement.”
The Police Mental Health Outreach Team (PMHOT), reads the release, will work with the City of Surrey bylaws department, Fraser Health “and other local health and community partners,” to develop “integrated strategies to address crime, community concerns, and personal crisis in an inclusive manner throughout Surrey.”
“By combining the expertise of police officers who worked on the Surrey Outreach Team and Police Mental Health Intervention Unit, PMHOT will ensure a consistent and integrated response to public safety concerns related to homelessness, addiction, and mental health,” the release reads.
PMHOT, according to the release, will:
• provide a visible presence of police, bylaws and social services
• build relationships with those impacted by homelessness, mental health and/or substance abuse
• seek out and provide alternative supports to individuals in need
• protect property and local businesses and work with the community to bring about solutions to local issues
• proactively liaise with local agencies providing supports and services to citizens struggling with homelessness, addiction and/or mental health
• provide emergency response to police mental health calls with Car 67 and long-term solutions through the Police Mental Health liaison
• support Fraser Health mental health initiatives, including Assertive Community Treatment
Surrey RCMP said this new team comes in the “wake of stabilization” of the 135A Street area in June 2018, which included providing some temporary housing for the local homeless population.
Superintendent Shawn Gill, community services officer, said the new team and amalgamation of resources “increases our capacity to provide outreach.”
“From past experience, we know that when vulnerable persons are supported and engaged in healthy and safe living practices, this often leads to a reduction in criminal activity and reduced demand on policing and social services,” Gill said.
For the past four years, according to the release, Surrey RCMP’s Police Mental Health Intervention Unit “has been providing a measured response to police situations involving significant mental health issues.”
The unit worked in “close partnership” with Fraser Health and other health and community agencies, which included Car 67, a police mental health liaison and an Assertive Community Treatment team constable.
“Recognizing that both the Surrey Outreach Team and Police Mental Health Intervention Unit deal with some of the most vulnerable citizens within our city, it was determined that the amalgamation of these two units into the new PMHOT would allow the Surrey RCMP and its partners to provide enhanced service to these clients who require police service,” the release reads.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said the “stabilization plan” for 135A Street “has been successful because of the teamwork and innovative programs that have been implemented.”
“The new Police Mental Health Outreach Team is another example of how we are constantly looking for ways to evolve and enhance how we can best help some of the most vulnerable people in our city,” McCallum said.