Constable Michael Kitchen began work as the Orillia OPP Mental Health officer in 2018. He has been a constant in the Orillia OPP's partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the collaboration with them for the Orillia Crisis Outreach and Support Team. Over the years, Constable Kitchen and his COAST partners have managed to conduct approximately 1,000 interventions per year. These interventions are conducted pre-incident and post incident with a goal of guiding individuals into supports or to help them maintain the supports offered to them. This proactive approach has minimized police interactions.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many community and government supports shut down. Many community members in crisis had nowhere to turn. Constable Kitchen singlehandedly worked tirelessly to ensure individuals received support. Constable Kitchen engaged hospitals as well as shelters to ensure individuals received access to support. Constable Kitchen was instrumental in getting the COAST program operating again when it had been paused due to COVID. Meeting with CMHA staff as well as engaging Orillia City Council to help urge community and government supports to open in a safe manner.
During the pandemic, the Orillia Detachment has seen mental health calls for service rise 23% with Constable Kitchen and the COAST members working tirelessly to support individuals in crisis and the frontline officers responding to the calls. Due their efforts and success, CMHA has provided a second COAST member to enhance the program.
With his kindness, compassion and work ethic, Constable Kitchen has broken down barriers, built trust and earned the respect and admiration of the Community.