The City of Red Deer is streamlining the process to reach the Social Diversion Team.  

After launching in 2021, the team has responded to non-emergency calls for support from individuals experiencing mental health struggles, addiction issues, or homelessness throughout Red Deer.  

Starting on Friday (March 1), anyone trying to connect with the team will need to call the non-emergency police line at 403-406-2200.  

Moving to internal dispatching is expected to simplify the call-in process, remove barriers, improve internal communication between the dispatchers and the responding team, and allow for operators with local community knowledge to provide an enhanced response.  

“This change simplifies calling and dispatching the Social Diversion Team,” said Peter Puszka, Municipal Policing Services Superintendent. “Red Deerians now need to remember only one contact number for all non-emergency community safety concerns and our experienced, well-trained Police Communications Operators can assess the circumstances of the call, determine which resource is appropriate, and dispatch accordingly.”   

Stephanie MacDonald, Outreach and Housing Services Manager for Safe Harbour Society said, “The Social Diversion Team is very excited for this change over and believes that this will allow for a more effective and timely response.”    

Although the contact number has changed, all other elements of the program will remain the same.   

The team consists of a Licensed Practical Nurse and a Social Diversion Specialist, who respond to reports of individuals in distress.   

The team connects clients with the social services they need, such as housing support, mental health support, detox programs, and harm reduction resources.   

“We are excited to continue providing individuals with the right response at the right time,” said Ryan Veldkamp, Social Wellness and Integration Supports Superintendent. “We know that not every call is an emergency call, and that’s why the Social Diversion Team is the right choice for these situations where individuals are in crisis. The team continues to allow our first responders to concentrate on responding to critical medical emergencies and criminal matters.”   

In the three years the program has been in operation, the team has responded to an average of 185 events per month.  

The program will continue to operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week, and the 24/7 non-emergency line will dispatch the team based on availability or utilize other policing and medical services. 

For more information on the team, click here