Mental health and weapons calls increase

·2 min read

COVID-19 helped make Chatham-Kent’s roads safer in 2020, but it appears the pandemic pushed other serious crimes to record highs.

In the annual Community Policing Report released to the Chatham-Kent Police Services Board shows mental health concerns calls rose 23 per cent over 2019.

There were 506 attempt or threatened suicides over the course of the year meaning officers responded 1.3 cases per day of people threatening or trying to self-harm.

Const. Ed Rota, part of the CKPS Mobile Crisis Team, told the board, the team responded to 1,467 mental health cases in 2020, compared to 1,191 the previous year.

The unit, comprised of Const. Rota in plainclothes and Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Crisis Nurse Christine Cogghe, follows up on calls involving mental health.

Devoting the Mobile Crisis Unit team to handle mental calls helps improves policing system wide, as regular officers are freed up to tackle other duties, says Rota. If an officer has to transport an individual or assist them in getting medical help for a mental health issue, it takes three to five hours on average to deal with the issue.

The mobile crisis unit helped 40 people in 2020 under the Mental Health Act and saved an estimated 140 hours of officer patrol time.

However, Rota says it is hard to quantify the exact number of hours diverted and the number could be underestimated.

Currently, the CKPS and the CKHA are teaming up for a pilot project having added a second crisis team.

The service’s Critical Incident Response Team was another which saw an increase in requests for service.

Officers was called out 183 times in 2020, surpassing the five-year record set in 2016.

The 13-member team dealt with 107 weapons offences in 2020, a sharp hike from 72 in 2019.

The team also saw an increase in search and rescue incidents from 12 in 2019 to 22 in 2020 and executed 21warrants compared to 15 this year..

C.I.R.T. officers were also called out to attend the Black Lives Matter and anti-mask rallys in Chatham.

A number of officers also completed Tactical Medic training equipping them to deal with gunshot wounds.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Herald