Police forces begin first national dialogue on dealing with the mentally ill

Alain Magloire was killed by Montreal Police

The beginnings of a national plan to train police on how to best deal with the mentally ill have emerged from the country's first collaborative dialogue on the issue.

Law enforcement officials, those who live with mental illness and their advocated met in Toronto over the past three days to discuss what could be done to avert tragedies involving those in crisis.

The conversation was hosted by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

It came at a time when statistics suggest one-in-five Canadians experience a mental health illness in any given year.

Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, who also heads the chiefs association, says a basic training framework is a good model and he hopes it is adopted by forces across the country.

The lack of national standards has been a key issue for police and mental health advocates.

There isn't currently a country-wide training curriculum for officers on how to deal with the mentally ill, nor is there comprehensive data collected on the issue.

But there's a consensus that police are increasingly on the front lines of mental health care.

Montreal police get about 140 calls every day for people with mental health issues.

A specific intervention team was created in the city a few months after Alain Magloire, a homeless man, was shot dead by police after he smashed a local business window.

With files from The Canadian Press

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