Non-urgent mental health calls to be diverted from Cornwall police dispatch

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The Cornwall Police Service has received two grants to youth criminal prevention and mental health.

Chief Shawna Spowart revealed details about the Ontario Community Safety and Policing Grants during Thursday’s board meeting.

One grant of $491,822 will be used for a youth support program and crime prevention strategies in the community.

The other grant is $925,461 is for a multi-faceted program called Project Evolution.

It will see low-priority mental health calls that don’t need a police response diverted to a specialist by police dispatchers.

“We’re going to be looking at a diversion program…where we’re diverting them right to a mental health worker from dispatch which we think will provide better service to community members who are experiencing a mental health issue,” Spowart told the board.

No timeline was shared on when the diversion program will be up and running.

The rest of the money will also be used to hire within the hate-bias investigations department and crime data collection and analysis. The force will also hire a part-time project coordinator for its Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity plan.

In both cases, the grants covers three years.

“This is very exciting news for us and it’s going to allow us to more freely implement the programs we were looking to prioritize,” the chief said.