(Wednesday, February 13, 2014) – The following is a statement from Camille Quenneville, CEO of CMHA Ontario, in response to the recommendations released today by a five-member jury in an inquest into the deaths of Reyal Jardine-Douglas, Sylvia Klibingaitis and Michael Eligon, three mentally ill Toronto residents fatally shot by police: “We thank the jury for their thoughtful recommendations which are consistent with our longstanding viewpoint that increased police training is critical. By virtue of their job, police are most often the first responders in a crisis and it’s important they have all the tools necessary to de-escalate a situation involving a person experiencing a mental health crisis so that everyone can remain safe. We’ve been working with police services across Ontario and frontline officers have indicated they would like to receive more training on how to approach a situation involving a person having a mental health crisis.
“Future de-escalation training could help police officers distinguish a situation involving someone in crisis and allow them to intervene appropriately using effective communication techniques. One example is having police officers address these individuals by using their first name if possible. This is a small gesture that can be quite effective in a highly tense situation.
“We feel de-escalation remains the best way to ensure everyone’s safety in these situations and we’re thankful the jury took time to think about what de-escalation tactics might address. In addition to the jury, we are also grateful to the public for their interest and support. Only by engaging everyone in a dialogue about these serious situations can we ensure the very best protocols. Protecting those in need of urgent mental health care and reducing the stigma of mental illness is paramount for CMHA Ontario, and these recommendations are very practical, timely and relevant.”
About CMHA Ontario
Founded in 1952, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario, is a non-profit, charitable organization committed to making mental health possible for all. CMHA Ontario works closely with its 31 local branches in communities across the province to ensure the quality delivery of services to consumers and families of individuals with mental illness, dual diagnosis and concurrent disorders. CMHA Ontario contributes knowledge, resources and skills to provincial policy development and implementation. We promote mental health in collaboration with others. We further equitable access to mental health services and champion the reduction of mental health disparities.
For more information, contact:
416-977-5580 ext. 4141