Blue Line

Durham Regional introduces fresh mental health response unit for 2017

Durham Regional Police Insp. Bruce Townley introduced the board to the newest members of the Mental Health Response Unit (MHRU) at the most recent meeting, held earlier this week.

September 12, 2017  By Staff

Mental health response team: DRPS Insp. Bruce Townley and Paul McGarry (centre) of Lakeridge Health introduced the new Mental Health Response Unit members at the September 2017 board meeting. They are RN’s Brenda O’Neill and Paige Walton (left) as well as constables Kayleen Browell and Luke Zebrak (right).

Under a new partnership with Lakeridge Health, an experienced registered nurse is partnered with a DRP officer with specialized training in mental health response. Thanks to support from the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), two teams hit the road in mid-August, according to the force.

“They’ve already been involved in multiple calls, including their first shift in which they assisted a man who was damaging his home in the midst of a nervous breakdown,” DRPS said in the service board newsletter. “They de-escalated the call and got the man the help he needed. The teams also do follow-up work, touching base with citizens to ensure they are getting the help they need.”

The DRPS says it has partnered with other agencies to staff a MHRU in years past, but hadn’t had two full-time teams since October 2016.

Over the past year, the DRPS has responded to 3,277 mental health calls. Currently more than 180 front-line police officers have received specialized training in mental health response in addition to the MHRU.


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