CMHA approves of Ombudsman stance for more police de-escalation

JUNE 30, 2016

CMHA Ontario is pleased with the 22 recommendations released by provincial Ombudsman about the importance of police using de-escalation techniques in conflict situations.

A-matter-of-life-and-deathPaul Dubé presented his report, A Matter of Life and Death, on June 29 and highlighted several key training areas that police should focus on including de-escalation regulation and a new use-of-force model.

“We’re grateful to the Ombudsman and his staff for the leadership they’ve shown in releasing this report,” CMHA Ontario CEO Camille Quenneville said. “De-escalating a crisis situation is imperative to resolving a conflict with anyone – especially someone with lived experience of mental health issues.

“Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division supports the Ombudsman’s recommendation that police officers from across the province should receive more training in mental health crisis intervention and other appropriate de-escalation techniques. We also value our relationships with law enforcement across the province. We offer several programs that are examples of successful community partnerships and we look forward working to benefit all parties in crisis situations.”

The Ombudsman’s report is the result of an investigation that began after the 2013 police shooting death of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim, who was aboard a Toronto streetcar.

Dubé said the investigation drew 176 complaints from members of the public, interest groups, and members of the law enforcement community. Close to 100 interviews were conducted by Ombudsman Office investigators, including an interview with CMHA Ontario. He said 19 people have been shot by police since Yatim’s death.