Alain Magloire inquest: expert says police training no easy fix

Police training alone is not a solution to interventions involving patients with mental health issues, an instructor at Quebec's police college said at the coroner's inquest into the death of Alain Magloire.

Inquest into death of Montreal homeless man shot by police examines mental health issues

Alain Magloire, a 41-year-old homeless man who suffered from mental illness, was shot four times by police outside the Berri bus station in February 2014. (Facebook)

Training alone is not a solution to police interventions involving patients with mental health issues, an instructor at Quebec's police college said Tuesday at the coroner's inquest into the death of Alain Magloire.

The 41-year-old Magloire was shot four times by police and died in February 2014 in an altercation near the Montreal Berri bus terminal in downtown Montreal.

In his testimony, Paulin Bureau, director of training at École nationale de police du Québec, detailed how many hours of training are dedicated to dealing with people who suffer from mental health issues and with the homeless.

He said the college offers continuing training to police forces across the province.

But Bureau stressed training isn't an easy fix for police dealing with people who have mental health issues.

Bureau told the inquest cadets might not have to put that training into use in the field for a few years, and by then it would be difficult to recall what they had learned about dealing with someone in crisis. 

After 15 weeks of training at the provincial police college, officers don't come out as mental health specialists with the ability to diagnose someone in a short time period, Bureau said.

He said a police officer could get additional training for dealing with mental health issues one year and might not have to use that training for months or even years.

By comparison, soldiers get a full six months of training in dealing with crisis situations before being deployed on a mission overseas, Bureau said.

Police deal with high-stress situations

Coroner LucMalouin said that police forces have to find a way to improve on what's being done so that officers have a better understanding of mental health issues and how to manage high-stress situations.

Malouin said those issues are especially important given the problem of homelessness in large cities.

Magloire was the father of two girls and worked as a molecular biology researcher before developing a mental illness and ending up on the street.

The inquest resumed Monday after a two-month break.

This phase of the inquest will focus on Quebec's social and mental health services.