MONTREAL—For the past couple of years, Montreal police have been working to improve how their officers deal with the city's mentally ill and homeless, on Thursday another phase of that project was announced.

The largest new contribution will be a different way to train officers to handle crisis situations. So far, 55 police officers have received the training and will be on the road soon.

The announcement is part of a series of changes by the force in how they deal with Montrleal’s mentally ill. Last year, a squad composed of a handful of specially trained police and social workers responded to 911 calls.

The call for the plan came after the death of a homeless man and a bystander in June of 2011. Police deal with more than 30,000 calls relating to mental illness a year and say they need to adapt to serve the community better.

“Many years ago, we never really faced a problem of this complexity,” said Fady Dagher of the Montreal police. “This isn’t just a police issue, it is a health issue.”

By the end of 2013, the Montreal police plan to have 170 officers deployed with crisis training.