A Canadian perspective on the Memphis Crisis Intervention Team model
July 3, 2014 7:11 PM   Subscribe

The Walrus magazine looks into Toronto police shootings of the mentally ill and the Memphis Crisis Intervention Team model:

Memphis, one-quarter of Toronto’s size but with a homicide rate nine times higher, has developed a progressive approach to de-escalate high-tension confrontations, improve police attitudes toward those suffering from mental illness, and divert them from the criminal justice system. The Memphis Crisis Intervention Team model centres on dispatching specially trained beat cops to emergency calls as quickly as possible, and giving them the authority to take charge of the scene. That approach triggered a revolution in policing that has now been emulated in 2,700 jurisdictions across the US, including large urban centres such as Chicago and Los Angeles. A handful of Canadian cities, among them Hamilton and Vancouver, have also adopted the CIT model. While the TPS has not, senior officials claim that all of its 5,500 uniformed officers receive some training in how to handle mental illness, which makes the recent proliferation of shootings that much more perplexing.
posted by porn in the woods (11 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

Having lived in Memphis for several years (over a decade ago), I'm kind of staggered to read "Memphis police" and "progressive" mentioned in the same breath.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:26 PM on July 3 [6 favorites]

TPS is, relative to other Canadian police (especially in Vancouver and Victoria, in my experience) shockingly insensitive and closer to the American model of militarized policing, in anything other than normal day to day interactions with the public.

The treatment of the mentally ill by TPS should be a national scandal.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:55 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]

New York City has been incredibly, depressingly resistant to implementing the Memphis Model or something like it despite at least 15 years of advocacy (that I'm aware of) by the mental health community. The Toronto response--we're providing sufficient training even though we keep killing people with mental illness (but not that many)--is pretty much the NYPD party line.

The Memphis Model is a remarkable collaboration among all the stakeholders and Sam Cochran is an amazing person. Great article, thanks for posting.
posted by Mavri at 10:11 PM on July 3

Be careful what you say. The Toronto Police Union may sue you for several billion dollars. Because they do that.
posted by srboisvert at 5:41 AM on July 4

Thanks for the post, porn in the woods. My God, cops everywhere need to do better with mental health people so I hope that this Memphis model spreads.

Making the rounds on Twitter this morning, there's a pretty horrifying example of a CHIP viciously beating a woman that observers seemed to think exhibited mental health issues before the incident.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:42 AM on July 4

Be careful what you say. The Toronto Police Union may sue you for several billion dollars. Because they do that.

I'm on ODSP. Can't get blood from a rock.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:18 AM on July 4

Plus I should point out, when I say closer to the American model, I mean in relative terms to the exceedingly friendly and kind cops out on the Best Coast. In Toronto, they're merely friendly. Until they run into people with mental health issues--like poor Sammy Yatim, or the (I'm ashamed to not remember his name) the homeless guy they beat almost to death a few years ago.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:30 AM on July 4

20% of Calgary cops are British. That has nothing to do with this article, but I'm fascinated by how often you encounter cops with British accents here.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:19 PM on July 4

I'm on ODSP. Can't get blood from a rock.

That won't prevent them from trying.
posted by Pudhoho at 2:07 PM on July 5

Just got around to reading this now, and am so impressed. A little bit of empathy and thoughtfulness goes a long way, doesn't it?
posted by harriet vane at 6:15 AM on July 17

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