Officers go Above-and-Beyond to Support a Person Living on the Street

Posted On Monday May 16, 2022
Abigail and Richard
Cst. Abigail Langton and Cst. Richard Chin

Cst. Abigail Langton and Cst. Richard Chin from Peel Regional Police’s 22 Divisional Mobilization Unit (DMU) know just how the kindest of gestures can make a big difference.

In October 2021, while on a daily walk in a popular locality of Mississauga, Cst. Langton and Chin met a man, who appeared to be experiencing homelessness and showing signs of frostbite on his leg.

“While speaking with him, we came to know quickly that he had been living on the streets for some time and that he couldn’t get into a shelter,” said Cst. Langton. “His health card was expired and therefore, couldn’t get his COVID-19 vaccinations or treatment for his wounds.”

Officers Langton and Chin subsequently connected him to services through St. Leonard’s Place Peel, a community-based, non-profit organization that supports men ages 18 years and over who have experienced homelessness, mental health and addiction issues. Within days, he was able to renew his health card and get treatment for his injuries. At this same time while Cst. Langton and Cst. Chin connected the individual with community services, they also made arrangements for him to get his COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Being vaccinated allowed him to dine inside a restaurant—something that was particularly important to him because he was able to be somewhere warm and it has made a vast difference in his life,” said Cst. Langton. “We were also able to secure a temporary shelter for him until a room at St. Leonard’s was available.”

This story is one of the many and countless examples of positive community engagement arising out of the DMU. “Peel Regional Police’s DMU is a key resource for addressing issues that cannot be adequately resolved by traditional police response,” says Staff Sergeant Chris Krause, Community Mobilization. “In 2020, as the health situation in Ontario continually evolved, so did the calls for service involving crises in mental health, addiction and homelessness, which were becoming more and more common.”

“This is the new frontier of policing and what we’re trying to do as unit, as part of Community Safety and Well-Being, is we’re trying to get people connected with resources at the time that they need it, rather than at the end,” said Cst. Chin.

To mitigate the number of hours frontline officers spent on responding to community issues, Peel Regional Police launched the DMU in 2021. Officers in the DMU address needs by connecting people and priority populations with immediate resources, thereby reducing habitual calls and unnecessary police interactions.

Cst. Abigail Langton and Cst. Richard Chin’s actions and efforts to help the individual on that cold day in October speaks volumes. The services they provided allowed him to return to his previous profession in masonry work. When he could not afford boots, Cst. Langton and Cst. Chin again reached out and thanks to a vendor who generously donated, they presented him a brand new pair of steel-toed boots on his birthday.

“Since his interaction with the police, he has been rebuilding his life by working part-time jobs and is no longer been living on the streets,”said Cst. Chin.

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