Estevan police chief Rich Lowen is giving high praise to the new Police and Crisis Team program.
The PACT program was officially announced on Friday but Lowen said it's been in use for about a month already in Estevan.
"I think this is kind of the way of the future," Lowen said. "This is healthcare and police operating together to address the needs of the community, and that's our main goal."
Lowen said there is one female officer specifically assigned to PACT, along with two mental health experts who were hired by the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
"Really it is addressing people in crisis. We want to be able to have a proactive response and a reactive response," Lowen said. "The reactive response is the 911 calls that come into the service here. And we have somebody available to go out when it's not necessarily criminal in nature...we have somebody that can deal with the mental health aspect and get those people to the correct resource."
"Hopefully keeping them in a path that's healthy and get them towards the services that they need that aren't necessarily police, aren't necessarily emergency, health, waiting rooms or anything like that. Just getting them the resource. We also recognize it's not necessarily a police response that's needed. It's a healthcare response."
Lowen said he thinks the program has a lot of room to grow.
"I'd like to see this program expand, I think it has a great potential. And I think this program will be extremely beneficial for everyone in the community. Everyone from the public to the police to the healthcare system. This is just a different way of managing the services that were typically brought to police as opposed to health systems," Lowen said.
"This is the first time I think (in Estevan) that we have an officer specifically designated to this purpose."
Lowen also left the door open to new, similar programs in the future.
"If we can assign specific officers to specific groups, that would be ideally the best to see how we could work together," he said. "I don't have anything specific that I could tell you at the moment, but we're always open to other groups as well."