We hear about horrific situations in Canada when interactions between mentally unstable people and law enforcement lead to tragic outcomes.
Less well known are the longtime efforts of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) to meet the needs of the 30% of their calls that deal with mental illness. A summary of their most recent and ongoing efforts was released this summer in their policy statement “Vancouver Police Mental Health Strategy.” This document offers a template for what an enlightened broadly-based approach to mental illness looks like.
One of the very successful VPD programs described in the policy statement is Car 87, a service that began in 1978. Car 87 involves sending a police officer along with either a registered or psychiatric nurse to assess and respond to an emergency situation.