Toronto Is Going To Have Civilians Respond To Some 911 Calls Instead Of Police

Three Toronto neighbourhoods have been chosen for the project.
Toronto City Council Approves Plan For Non-Police Teams To Respond To Some 911 Calls
Staff Writer

Toronto is changing the way it responds to some 911 calls.

On Tuesday, Toronto City Council unanimously approved a pilot project for civilian crisis workers to respond to some non-emergency, non-violent calls in Toronto instead of police officers.

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The project is estimated to start hiring and training this year and run from 2022 to 2025.

Plans for the project began in June 2020, when Toronto started developing ways to change how they responded to calls regarding residents in crisis.

That decision was made after several city-wide protests for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a Black Torontonian who died during an encounter with police.

The pilot is split into four parts — three parts are tailored to specific Toronto neighbourhoods and a fourth will serve Indigenous communities.

Teams responding to relevant non-emergency 911 calls will be made up of crisis workers with training in mental health and crisis intervention, de-escalation, and field training.

A press release from the city says the pilot project will start in the following three neighbourhoods:

  • Northwest Toronto (Wards Etobicoke North, Etobicoke Centre, York Centre and Humber River-Black Creek)

  • Northeast Toronto (Wards Scarborough Southwest, Scarborough Centre, Scarborough-Agincourt, Scarborough North, Scarborough-Guildwood and Scarborough-Rouge Park)

  • Downtown East (Wards Spadina-Fort York and Toronto Centre)

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, councillors also approved a review of 911's current operations to see if the dispatch system could be turned into a non-police, city-run operation.

Cormac O'Brien
Staff Writer