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Saskatoon Police to investigate 'disruptive subgroup' of people unable to be served by existing social services

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The Board of Police Commissioners is asking the Saskatoon Police Service to learn more about a group of people unable to be served by existing social services.

Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper said the individuals have “complex needs” — often struggling with mental health issues and addictions.

Cooper described the individuals as a subgroup “who can't function in the existing resources."

“This subgroup is disruptive or intoxicated … and can't easily be placed into some support because they need to be stabilized,” Cooper said.

The chief said these individuals are driving disturbance calls and are in-and-out of police custody. Cooper said they are being released without proper supports.

“We have this core group of people who are repeatedly in contact with police because they have complex needs and because there are no other options for them,” Cooper told the board.

“We’ve had one individual who's had 140 stays in detention in the preceding 12 months.”

In the past year, 79 people have spent 10 or more nights in police detention and 397 people have spent five or more nights.

Mayor Charlie Clark brought forward the idea for police to further investigate these people, to learn more about them, in order to find an appropriate solution.

“I myself go and talk to a lot of individuals and heard of all kinds of reasons why people are coming to Saskatoon,” Clark said in the board meeting.

“Either they're banned from their own community, they have other service providers in other cities literally drive them here because there's nothing for them in those communities. And the other big one is people who are being released from incarceration.”

The board has also asked the province to step in and help develop specialized facilities for people with complex needs.

In a response letter, the government listed the funding already allocated for programs to help those battling homelessness, mental health issues and addictions.

“We appreciate your concerns and share your desire to find solutions. We look forward to continued collaboration,” the letter reads, signed by the Minister of Social Services and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.

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