Following widespread anger across the globe last year over police killings, the City of Calgary and Calgary police have announced $16 million in funding to reduce police calls for those in crisis.
In total, the city has allocated $5.8 million to non-profits that focus on crisis outreach and response, $360,000 to fund research into a "transformational crisis response system," and $1.8 million to help implement work stemming from the research.
Organizations that received funding include the Alpha House Society, Alexandra Community Health Centre, CUPS and the Distress Centre.
The Calgary Police Service has allocated $8 million to 26 organizations, focused on crisis response partnerships that could help change the way police respond to calls. Among those receiving money are Alberta Health Services, Alpha House and the United Way.
The force has handed out $5.2 million so far this year.
Right supports at right time, says Nenshi
"This investment will help Calgarians access the right supports at the right time," said Mayor Naheed Nenshi in a news release.
"Investing in programs that bring together first responders and mental health providers, including clinicians and social workers, will provide better relief and support to those in crisis. It will also result in decreased demand on police as more appropriate services become available for Calgarians."
The funding comes after city council approved its commitment to anti-racism last year amid worldwide calls to change the way police respond to crisis situations.
"This work is a direct response to the call from Calgarians, to address our response to people in crisis and work towards fair and equitable service for all," said Mark Neufeld, chief of the Calgary Police Service, in a news release.
"We have long said that in a 24/7 world, police officers are often the default responders to calls better suited for mental health experts."
Neufeld says the changes will provide better support for citizens and for officers and that it "reaffirms our commitment to transformational culture change within CPS, to honour our commitment to anti-racism, equity and inclusion."