It's a call police agencies across Canada get all too often — someone in mental distress threatening to harm themselves or others around them. But Brandon police say a new app available at the fingertips of front-line officers has helped more easily de-escalate situations and connect people to the most appropriate resource.
Police in the southwestern Manitoba city began using an app called HealthIM last summer. It was installed on duty-issued smartphones after the police service received provincial finding.
The app guides officers through a clinical risk assessment — a number of questions focused on the behaviours and actions of the person they have encountered. It then recommends a course of action, whether it be connecting the person with community-based resources or taking them to the hospital.
"It removes that subjectively and allows us to go through with a very clear set of definitions … which determines which threat they pose to themselves, what threat they pose to others and perhaps what the best course of action for us to take is," said Sgt. Dallas Lockhart, a street supervisor who has been with the Brandon Police Service for 24 years.