Public safety was the centre of discussion at a recent meeting hosted by North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold, joined at the meeting by co-host Glen Motz, MP and deputy shadow cabinet minister for public safety.
The gathering drew together leaders and representatives of federal, provincial and municipal government, law enforcement and organizations providing frontline services for public safety.
The discussion touched on many factors of public safety in the North Okanagan- Shuswap including mental health resources, addiction treatment supports, evolving roles of frontline officers and community support personnel.
“In my role, connecting with communities across the country, I have heard a consistent message that it will take concerted effort from all levels of government to address the poverty, mental health and addiction issues that also pose a threat to public safety,” said Motz. “The current Liberal policies are not addressing the public safety aspect and Canadians deserve better.”
Added Arnold: “Law enforcement and community support personnel in our region are facing increasing demands for mental health and addiction recovery support. Increased support for organizations supporting mental health and addiction recovery combined with growth of accessible and affordable housing would reduce the demands on law enforcement and outreach organizations while also strengthening public safety.”
Other steps for preventing crime and self-harm were also discussed including the question of how personnel supporting persons at risk may initiate interventions earlier to potentially reduce the severity of crime and addiction.
There was also a clear message from municipal government representatives expressing the need for local communities and law enforcement to be involved in processes related to the release of persons deemed to be a risk or potential risk to public safety.
“Input from front line personnel and elected community leaders about what is and is not working helps us, as legislators and policy makers, better understand how public support systems are operating and what changes are needed to improve public safety and security in our rural and urban communities,” said Arnold.
“I am grateful for the contributions of those who attended and will continue to advocate for the resources and laws required to increase public safety in our communities.”