Kelowna RCMP boss seeks to expand mental health teams after wellness check on student

Jul 3 2020, 8:05 pm

After a nursing student in Kelowna filed a civil claim stating she was assaulted in her apartment at the hands of an RCMP officer who had come to do a wellness check on her, the RCMP Commander in charge of the city’s detachment said it is time to “expand the best practices of the Police and Crisis Team program (PACT)” in the Southeast District.

Speaking about the situation at a press conference this week, RCMP Southeast District Commander Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli said that when he viewed the video footage, he was “deeply concerned” by what he saw.

“We need to review the circumstances as an organization from a policy and training perspective,” he said.

Haugli noted that currently, “our headquarters are reviewing our policies related to mental health related calls, which include wellness checks.”

As it currently stands, only two PACT programs currently exist: one in Kamloops and one in Kelowna.

At the same time, “mental health related calls for service from police in the southeast district are increasing – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

These types of calls, he furthered, ” should and could be assessed by a trained mental health worker, and we would be a support mechanism if they felt there was jeopardy to themselves or others.”

As such, Haugli said his goal is to “expand this [PACT] program in its existing locations, and introduce it to as many communities as possible.”

He added that his vision would be “a nurse accompanying every police officer to every mental health call.”

And if this is not possible, “then I want to implement a real-time information sharing model that provides our members with the important health information that will ensure wholesome assessment of the person in crisis before attending the call,” he added.

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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