The RCMP say they are stretched thin responding to mental health-related calls across the province

RCMP agree mental health calls increasing

RCMP are stretched thin responding to mental health-related calls across the province, something the RDCK finds concerning.

RCMP across the province are being called to mental health-related incidents more often while crime is trending downward.

That was the police force’s response to the Star’s inquiry after the Regional District of the Central Kootenay board expressed alarm last week at the number of mental health calls coming in to local RCMP detachments.

Sgt. Rob Vermeulen, senior media relations officer for the RCMP in BC didn’t provide a percentage of overall calls that are related to mental health, but did offer examples demonstrating how some mental health clients can create what he called a “disproportionate number of calls” for police assistance.

“A recent study by one detachment found eight people with mental health needs were responsible for a staggering 1,500 calls to police in four years,” wrote Vermeulen.

The solution to mental health-related issues requires a greater societal response, he added.

“Crime is trending downwards, but mental health issues continue to be a significant concern to police, who often find they are addressing anti-social and criminal behaviour resulting from mental health issues.”

Vermeulen wrote that the RCMP, like other police agencies, are very supportive of a collaborative approach for mental health clients and for individuals with mental health challenges and addictions.

“Our police officers frequently go above and beyond what is expected of them in these situations,” he said, “taking extra care and time to build relationships with people who suffer frequent mental health crises in their communities.”

Board questions staffing levels

The regional district board also wondered if a staff shortage may be contributing to the problem.

The RCMP budget is set by the province. A combination of factors are used, including but not limited to positions occupied, unit needs and historical expenditure patterns.

Staffing levels are based on provincial and municipal agreements.

According to the municipal police agreement, and subject to the commanding officer’s discretion, the policy states, “no member will be replaced when attending a training course related to the Municipal Police Service, when on annual leave, or when ill except where illness results in a member’s absence for a period of more than 30 consecutive days.”

Any staffing changes must be filled within one year of a written request.

Asked if the policy means vacancies resulting from maternity, parental, or sick leave would not be filled, Vermeulen said that isn’t necessarily the case.

“I can’t speak to a specific situation but there are processes in place to deal with long-term absences. Each case is assessed and reviewed individually.”

Just Posted

RDCK moves ahead with Castlegar rec complex upgrade plan

Board approves grant application for $13 million from provincial, federal governments

Cottonwood Lake preservation group surpasses $50,000 fundraising goal

In 28 days, 393 donors have contributed to the fund

Last of southern Selkirk caribou relocated to Revelstoke area

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

Scammers using Castlegar home for rental fraud

Local realtors say the problem is happening more frequently with their properties

West Kootenay radio club says local network in need of upgrades

Club president Lane Wilson estimated $100,000 of work required

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

High court ruling allows long-term expats to vote in byelections across Canada

Supreme Court decision enfranchised an estimated one million or more Canadian expats to be able to vote

B.C. university students dumpster dive to shed light on food waste

Eating only from dumpsters, the students hope to raise money for food banks in Northern Canada

Missing B.C. boy and aunt found safe

The pair had been reported missing from Kamloops

Company issues lifetime ban after man jumps from cruise ship

Nick Naydev posted the video last week showing him standing on the balcony of the Symphony of the Seas

Unruly passenger forces B.C.-bound flight to divert to Calgary

Police say charges are pending against a woman in her 40s

The debate over how to teach math in B.C.

Tutoring businesses growing with concerns

Inflation rises as higher airfares, veggie prices offset cheaper gas

Statistics Canada says inflation accelerated to two per cent in December

Social media strains over Prince Rupert’s boil water notice

Resident forms Community for Clean Water, and Jennifer Rice responds to acting mayor’s comments

Most Read