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Peel police shootings raise questions about dealings with mentally ill

Last Updated Apr 24, 2015 at 3:13 pm EDT

Questions are being raised after Peel police fired their guns three times over the last month when dealing with the mentally ill.

In the most recent incident, on Wednesday, an officer fired a shot while responding to a distressed man in Brampton. The man wasn’t hit by the bullet.

On March 16, the Canadian Mental Health Association took control of a crisis response service that pairs mental health workers with Peel officers to help safely de-escalate such calls.

But unlike other similar services in cities like Hamilton, they’re not allowed to attend every call. CEO David Smith said it didn’t appear his organization was called on Wednesday.

“It would depend on what was said on the call,” he said.

“If there was an imminent threat, it’s likely the police wouldn’t involve us in the first step.

“Sometimes the level of risk is determined to be high enough by police that they respond with two uniformed officers, and in many of these cases I think that’s what happened.”

On March 20, police shot and killed a 30-year-old man on Queen Frederica Drive in Mississauga after an officer was stabbed while responding to a disturbance. A second officer was shot by friendly fire, and an innocent bystander was also hit by a police bullet.

On April 9, police again fired shots in Mississauga after a man in distress stabbed an officer and stole his cruiser near Winston Churchill Boulevard and Dundas Street West.