A motion coming to Victoria’s council on Thursday is recommending the City explore alternative response model.
The motion puts forward a number of recommendations including directing staff to develop the framework for an accessible and culturally safe and appropriate alternative response model in time to be considered for the 2021 budget deliberations. In addition, the motion recommends that the engagement of community partners includes a strong representation by communities who are disproportionately harmed within the current system namely Black, Indigenous and POC communities, along with those with living experience of homelessness, mental health challenges or substance use.
The motion points to Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) in Oregon as one example of a “successful re-imagining of how to address community challenges.” The program provides mobile crisis intervention 24-7, dispatching through the Eugene police-fire-ambulance communication centre and through a non-emergency number.
Each team – consisting of a nurse, EMT and crisis worker who have several years of experience in the mental health field – provides immediate stabilization for people in urgent medical need or psychological crisis. CAHOOTS also provides assessments, information, referrals, advocacy and transportation to the next step in treatment.
The motion, put forward by Couns. Sarah Potts, Marianne Alto and Jeremy Loveday, comes amidst national cries to defund police sparked by the killing of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests that have been ongoing across the world.