Today I received a follow up phone call from the Internal Investigations Officer I’d spoken with last month about the complaint I’d made regarding how the police department handles calls from civilians in the midst of a mental health crisis after I had been led away in handcuffs in January and treated like a criminal when Rich needed to call the police while I myself was in crisis (in case you missed it, click here: https://wheredidmommyssmilego.com/2023/01/19/cuffed/).
During our last conversation the Investigator asked if it would be okay if he reached out to the mental health support team who works with their police department to share my story with them in order to gain further incite into the role they play. In the meantime though he had also been doing his own “investigating” himself by reading pieces of my Blog and learning as much as he could about my journey. He complimented me on my bravery to share my story, fight the stigma and speak out for those who may not have quite found their own voice yet (Here is what happened during that call: https://wheredidmommyssmilego.com/2023/02/15/feeling-heard/).
Today we discussed what he had learned since our last conversation and where we may go from here, but first, he let me know that first and foremost police officers are trained to err on the side of caution when called to a home in any given situation and that given what Rich had initially told the officers on the phone that night about what I had just tried to do to myself (which I will not be sharing here) they definitely needed to proceed with caution upon entering my home. I completely respect that but once they arrived and could see I was no longer in danger of hurting myself further, their next steps were very unnecessary, including isolating Rich from me the whole time they were here and not allowing him to come to the hospital.
The officer then continued to tell me about his actual conversation with the mental health unit. They informed him that at this current moment there are only two mental health teams in place for all of York Region (but that they have recently gotten approval to hire a third team).
The teams are made up of a social worker and a plain clothed officer (I was once visited by them while at a therapy session several years ago). The officers assigned to this unit do go through special training and I can remember my experience being alot less overwhelming for me at the time and that I was taken by ambulance to the hospital after they spoke to me for over an hour; not handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser. But again, there are not enough of these teams out there to service the region and they are only being utilized for 12 hours a day, not 24/7 like they should be…and for those of you who don’t know, York Region is fricken massive!!
The officer agrees that more action needs to be taken right away and that they need to continue to look for ways to improve their system. He also said that he struggles in his own head on how to ensure that my story gets to the right people in order to help make positive changes.
He is going to begin by drafting a letter and with my permission and any further feedback I would like to add to the letter he will help make my story come to life. He told me that he does not want to abandon my thoughts and feelings and will do everything he can to ensure my voice is heard.
He hopes this will be the actual ammunition needed to have the sergeant in charge start advocating for more training of officers and put a budget forward in order to get more funding, advocacy and resources out there including adding additional teams and more specialized help.
Today I felt like I mattered and I will continue my mission because you matter too!
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