Schizophrenic Howard Hyde fell into a system with gaps between mental treatment and criminal prosecution, a police superintendent testified Thursday at the inquiry into the man’s death.
Halifax Regional Police Supt. Bill Moore said officers who come across violent mentally ill people, such as the Hyde encounter in November 2007, are divided between two routes.
One option is to invoke the Involuntary Treatment Act and send the individual to hospital. However, Moore said most officers instead choose the criminal court option because provincial policies urge it in cases of domestic violence.
Moore said sometimes individuals should be sent to hospital instead, but officers might not know it is an option, adding there are gaps between the two systems and people cannot move easily between them.
“Right now, once they enter the (Involuntary Treatment Act) they go that way and I wouldn’t say police lose control of the individual, but they’re in the medical system and we’re not normally there,” he said. “If they go the other way they’re controlled but they’re not necessarily medically treated.”
Moore said if the individual isn’t sent for medical help immediately, it can’t happen again until after a judge has seen them. He said he’d like to see diversion made easier, as is the case in other jurisdictions.
Between the time Hyde was Tasered and shortly before his death a doctor wrote a note saying he should be returned to hospital, however, Moore claimed there is no mechanism for police to have made that happen.