‘When I was at work on Thursday pretty much every member in town was at a mental health call.’ (File photo)

‘When I was at work on Thursday pretty much every member in town was at a mental health call.’ (File photo)

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP needs help with mental health calls

‘The police shouldn’t be the people always responding to these’

Mental health calls are taxing Vernon North Okanagan RCMP.

“When I was at work on Thursday (Aug. 11) pretty much every member in town was at a mental health call,” said Supt. Shawna Baher.

She made her comments while presenting quarterly crime statistics to city council at its Aug. 15 meeting.

“The police shouldn’t be the people always responding to these.”

Baher added this takes away from other calls for service.

“Could our time be better spent? Absolutely, if we had partners, and we don’t have those currently with the exception of the Crisis Response Team when they are available.”

Baher said she would like to see nurses and mental health workers out with officers.

RCMP is still trying, but not with much success, to get Interior Health to assist with getting antagonist opioids into cells for those going through withdrawal.

“If you’ve never watched anyone going through withdrawal, it’s a horrific thing,” said Baher.

The RCMP report stated that 158 naloxone kits were handed out between April and June this year as part of the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP’s Opioid Pilot Project. It was started in 2018 to improve service for people suffering from addiction issues, which often lead to their involvement in criminal behaviour.

Criminal code files were up 2.9 per cent in Vernon between April and June, compared to the same period last year, while property offences have risen 6.6 per cent.

READ MORE: Vernon’s Westside crime numbers see significant increase

READ MORE: Vernon fire sparked by lawnmower blade


@GaryBarnes109
gary.barnes@kelownacapnews.com

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