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Jail not the answer for mental health calls: Kelowna RCMP

‘We’re on par for attending 3,000 mental health calls for service this year’
RCMP Supt. Kara Triance urges crisis stabilization teams and co-responder teams should be the focus moving forward. (File photo)

Kelowna’s top RCMP officer says her detachment has been significantly impacted by mental health calls over the first four months of this year.

It was part of Superintendent Kara’s Triance’s Q1 2022 crime stats report to city council Monday (May 30).

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“In not only what we’ve seen, but with our community at large and what they observed this quarter,” said Triance. “We’re on par for attending 3,000 mental health calls for service this year, and I remain concerned about the level and the seriousness and the violence associated to mental health calls.”

Triance added what really spoke to the level of severity and violence was the stabbing of an RCMP officer in March and the murder of UBCO security guard Harmandeep Kaur in February.

“One of our police officers was stabbed by somebody in mental health crisis and we are lucky to have him alive today,” said Triance. “He has sustained permanent injuries. I share that along with the tragic loss of a young female security guard who was senselessly killed by somebody in severe mental health crisis.”

Triance added she raised these issues as a need for system alignment, a health response to people in crisis, and continued work in mental health.

“It cannot be left without being said as we move forward. There have to be alternatives to jail and the hospital. Jail is not the right place for somebody in mental health crisis. Crisis stabilization teams and co-responder teams must continue to be the focus in 2023.”

Calls for service with a mental health component were down from 773 to 703 for the first four months of 2022, while mental health apprehensions were down to 145 from 155.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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