Announcement of the Canadian Mental Health Commission

    OTTAWA, March 20 /CNW Telbec/ - The federal government announcement about
funding for a Canadian Mental Health Commission is welcome news to the
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and its member police services.
According to Chief Terry Coleman, co chair of the CACP's Police and Mental
Health Committee (, "Probably no one is more aware than police
officers of the tragedy that untreated mental illness brings about. We work
with people with mental illnesses on a daily basis. Most are not dangerous and
have not committed any kind of crime - but because we are there, we are
available, and we do not shun them, we become their helpers and their access
to treatment. We are optimistic that this new Commission will be the first of
many steps toward decreasing the stigma of mental illness, and of providing
much needed care."
    In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of contacts
between people with mental illness and the police, as services for the
mentally ill have become stretched. Increasingly, police organizations have
developed specialized services and dedicated personnel to improve their
interactions with people with mental illnesses. One of the committees of the
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is devoted to this very important
topic, and strives to work with the health care community to not only improve
services and linkages for the mentally ill but to avoid the unnecessary
criminalization of people with mental illnesses.
    CACP applauds government efforts that have led to the funding of the
Canadian Mental Health Commission, and the decision to appoint former Senator
Michael Kirby as its first chair. As a participant in the Canadian Alliance on
Mental Illness and Mental Health, CACP looks forward to the presence of a
national voice on this very important issue.

    Chief Jack Ewatski
    President, CACP

For further information:

For further information: Chief Terry Coleman, Co-Chair, CACP Police and
Mental Health Committee, Tel. (306) 694-7630, Email:

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Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police

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