MCIT Helps Deescalate Armed Woman in Crisis

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 2:29 p.m. September 2, 2020

A Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) helped defuse a tense situation involving a woman brandishing a knife in front of Old City Hall.

A woman and man in a vehicle
St. Michael's Hospital Nurse Sivi Joachim and Constable Paul Regan patrol as a MCIT team downtown

On August 17, Const. Paul Regan and Sivi Joachim, a nurse at St. Michael’s Hospital for the last 15 years, attended the call generated through the 9-1-1 emergency response system. 

They got to the scene as other officers were there trying to deescalate the situation.

“When we got there, we walked up together on the front steps of Old City Hall and located a female holding a large knife down to her side,” said Regan, was the recipient of the MCIT Excellence Award for a police officer presented last December. “We began to engage her and at the same time I instructed other officers on the scene to get more resources and move people back while Sivi was talking to the woman.”

Regan, a videographer before joining Toronto Police 15 years ago and starting his career at 12 Division, said the woman was upset with the criminal justice system.

“It took us about 25 minutes to gain her trust and our empathy before I was able to get her to put the knife down and slide it over to me,” he said. “We continued talking to her for about another 20 minutes.”

Paramedics were called to help support her getting to a hospital for treatment.

A woman speaking to two people
St. Michael's Nurse Sivi Joachim works as part of a Mobile Crisis Intervention Team

MCITs respond to calls involving people in mental health crisis, including thoughts of suicide or self-harm threats, distorted or psychotic thinking, anxiety and overwhelming depression.

The officer and the nurse assess an individual's specific needs, provide intervention and support at the scene, de-escalate the situation and ensure the person is connected to appropriate services. 

The MCIT also provide a secondary response to 9-1-1 calls involving people experiencing a psychiatric or emotional crisis that requires intervention.

Joachim has worked with Regan for the last six years.

“This incident was a regular call for me,” said the veteran mental health nurse who was last December presented with the MCIT Excellence Award for a health care professional. “This is the type of call we do daily. We stabilize every day and we keep people out of emergency departments. It’s life-saving work.”

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