Montreal will deploy a unit of social workers to “defuse” crisis situations before the police arrive. First launched in the city center this fall, the pilot project will then expand across the island.

Calming a person in crisis, under the influence of drugs, or in distress in downtown Montreal will only be the business of the police. The Mobile Mediation and Social Intervention Team (ÉMMIS) will now work with these vulnerable people. This pilot project, announced Wednesday by the mayoress Valerie Plante, should last until the end of December.

The City seeks to “equip the city with a service of its own” to deal with these “complex situations”, explained Ms. Plante at a press conference. “Everyone is tired of piecework. We really try to have internal resources that could be deployed as quickly as possible, once again to avoid escalations of any kind. “

“Most of the calls” that the “institutional partners” of the City of Montreal receive relate to these crisis situations, added the director general of the Social Development Society, François Raymond. This team “will lighten the system” by creating “a buffer zone before arriving at a security guard or a police officer”.

The six officers deployed as part of the pilot project will patrol the city center to prevent conflicts. For example, the officers of ÉMMIS will be able to “facilitate the conversation with the itinerant population which is held in front of a trade, or which sometimes is held in the alleys and which create insecurities”, illustrated the mayoress.

A team leader can, if the need arises, call on other social workers already present in the street. Conversation with other community organizations is “crucial”, argued Valérie Plante. “We don’t want to take away their expertise. “

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The ÉMMIS agents will initially be available 15 hours a day, from 9 a.m. to midnight, 7 days a week. The City aims to make it an accessible service at all times and everywhere on the island of Montreal.

The pilot project will cost the city coffers $ 160,000.

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