Police are getting ready to roll out two new initiatives.
At this month's Timmins Police Services Board meeting, Chief John Gauthier talked about two programs launching this summer — a street outreach and community safety team, and a mental health outreach team.
The first one hitting the streets is the communy safety team, which Gauthier said is similar to the old street crime team.
“Their mandate is going to be problem solvers. So they’re going to go out and if there’s an issue in the downtown core, they’re going to be expected to go walk the beat, take care of issues downtown. They’re going to be investigating thefts, break and enters, thefts from vehicles,” he said.
Two officers are assigned to the beat starting July 2.
“They’re going to be tasked at whatever we feel is something that’s pressing,” he said.
The recent rash of break and enters and thefts from vehicles, is an example of what the two would be assigned to.
He said their duties will include a mix of uniformed and plain-clothes work.
When there are serious occurrences, Gauthier said they could also be tasked to canvas or be part of the investigative team.
The mental health outreach is a partnership with Timmins and District Hospital.
While there is funding for the program, Gauthier said they hope to have a memorandum of understanding signed by early next week, with goal of having boots on the ground Aug. 1.
He told the board that the focus is helping people who are in need, suffering from a crisis, or prior to arriving in a crisis situation.
“Our officers are going to be teamed up with either a social worker or a registered nurse from the mental health unit with a mental health background, and it’s they’re going to go to those calls and try to assess the situations in order to try to speed things up and provide the services that are so desperately needed,” he said.
Gauthier said it's the result of a casual conversation with a rep from the hospital who saw the possibility of getting funding from the Northeast Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).
Both initiatives were presented to the Downtown Timmins Business Improvement Association board, and Gauthier said they were well received.
“Obviously this is a complex problem and these are very creative solutions that move past the stereotypical delivery of police services into ones that partner and recognize upfront some of the root causes for that individual being homeless. It’s, I think, a great initiative to help with these issues that we face on an ongoing basis that are not going to go away,” said Timmins Mayor George Pirie.