West Island police to partner with mental health professionals

By Robert Frank

The frequency of mental health crises is growing faster on the West Island than elsewhere in Montreal, and police frequently are unprepared to help victims of serious mental illness.

The Suburban has learned that senior officials in Pointe Claire have spent the past two-and-a-half years developing a protocol to help police officers better deal with distraught individuals.

Station 5 Commander Martin Guay, who developed the partnership with mental health experts at the Lakeshore General Hospital, is expected to announce the new protocol at a news conference on Monday, May 14.

Police have convened a seminar that day at the Pierrefonds Cultural Centre to bring together about 40 key players from the police, mental health organizations and non-profits that provide services to the mentally ill, under the ambit of the Table de concertation en santé mentale.

Among the expected speakers is a Veterans Affairs Canada expert who will talk about the impact on post-traumatic stress disorder on discharged modern-day veterans.

For example, in 2010, two overzealous Montreal police officers roughed up traumatized former soldier Claude Lord, who had been living quietly in an abandoned shipping container near the Frontenac Métro station.

Last year, The Globe and Mail reported that Lord is at last receiving a military pension and now lives in a decent home, after a local businessman, William Scully, protested to municipal and federal officials on Lord’s behalf.

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