Crisis Intervention Response ("Réponse en Intervention de Crise" or "RIC") patrol officers are called upon to respond to emergency calls involving individuals who are in a serious or intense crisis in order to resolve the situation from the first moments of the intervention.These patrol officers are different in that they have taken, on a voluntary basis, specialized five-day training on police intervention with individuals in a mental health crisis. This training brings together theories and methods for intervention in order to develop a better understanding of human crises and methods for intervening with these individuals.Patrol officers receive the "RIC" designation once their training is complete. On duty with their usual partners, they can then be asked to respond to emergency calls involving individuals in a serious or intense crisis in order to resolve the situation quickly. Otherwise, these officers perform their usual work. On the street, to distinguish themselves from their fellow patrol officers, they wear an armband labelled "RIC."This solution was inspired by the "crisis intervention team" model of police intervention developed in 1988 in Memphis, Tennessee, in the United States. This model is more commonly called the "Memphis Model." Several hundred police services in the United States and Canada have adopted this model or a variation of the model to perfect their interventions with individuals in a mental health crisis.
The main objective of RIC patrols is to improve the organization's capacity to resolve crisis situations quickly regarding emergency calls involving individuals dealing with mental illness, while remaining within a public safety mandate.This objective is now possible, since specially trained police officers have, as a main characteristic, a recognized ability to fully evaluate the situation, fully assess the personalities of the individuals involved in the crisis, and react effectively to situations by favouring communication.The deployment of RIC patrol officers on the ground also has a secondary objective of supporting and advising other police officers of the best practices that can be applied with individuals in a mental health crisis and reducing injuries associated with these interventions.
Innovation and Operational Practice Process Development Service
The design of the project and the training began in 2012 and continued until 2013. The delivery of the training began in autumn 2013. Since then, RIC patrol officers have been progressively deployed on the ground.
This initiative was undertaken to better equip Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) frontline police officers to respond to numerous calls related to individuals in a mental health or crisis situation. In fact, at the SPVM, it was estimated that patrol officers respond to more than 33,000 service calls per year (about 100 calls per day) regarding these individuals. This estimate is only the tip of the iceberg. Without a response that is better adapted to the various situations encountered, which are often very complex, multiple interventions are often required; taking time and often requiring several police officers, and regularly using staff from other specialized emergency services, such as paramedics, hospital emergency room staff and so on. For example, over a period of eight months at the same neighbourhood police station, which is far from downtown, in 164 non-criminal events associated with mentally disturbed individuals, the same individual was involved in 20 events, and this case is far from the exception.
The project costs are related to design of the training and its delivery to RIC patrol officers, as well as the armband worn on the uniform as a distinctive marker.
The deployment of RIC patrol officers was planned in three phases. The first phase included the training of 34 police officers, or one officer per patrol unit in select neighbourhood stations and in the subway and the airport units. The second phase is underway. It aims to train 24 patrol officers, or one patrol officer per work team for each of six units targeted as priority units. The third phase will begin in spring 2014. It will allow for the completion of training for one police officer per work team for all patrol units.When complete, the objective is to have around 200 patrol officers at the SPVM with RIC training. This will allow us to ensure the availability of these patrol officers 24/7 across the region to respond to serious or intense situations (e.g., one per work team for each of the six units, in neighbourhood police stations and in the subway and the airport units).
Since this is a very recent initiative, it would be premature to discuss how the use of RIC patrol officers will benefit SPVM police practices. However, given the training received by these police officers, they can respond in a more efficient manner to the operational reality they constantly face.The results of similar project evaluations in other police services lead us to believe that RIC patrols' interventions will result in the following outcomes:
The dynamics associated with mental troubles and stress increase the occurrence of crisis situations in this population where police intervention is required. The challenges involved in this type of intervention are numerous. To address this, SPVM is now supported by innovative training for RIC patrol officers. This training was designed in a manner that allows police officers, who are designated "RIC" officers after having succeeded at their voluntary training, to appear at emergency calls involving individuals in serious or intense situations, in order to quickly resolve these situations. They are utilized to better evaluate the situation, better assess the personalities of the involved individuals, and react effectively by favouring communication.
The use of RIC patrol officers includes several documented advantages:
The following operational follow-up indicators are gathered in order to take into account the RIC's operational activities and better follow the progression of the project:
The use of RIC patrol officers is one of numerous measures that the SPVM has implemented to improve intervention methods with individuals in a crisis or mental health situation. It is also possible to consult the SPVM's 2013-2015 Strategic Mental Health Plan at the following link: http://www.spcum.qc.ca/en/documentation/gd_72.asp.
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