It came on the back end of a report delivered by the Quesnel RCMP’s new Staff Sergeant Darren Dodge on mental health issues in the city.
He noted that the number of calls they are getting with ties to mental health are increasing substantially…
“In the year 2019 we had 719 calls for service involving mental health issues in this town. That worked out to 6 percent of all of our calls for service last year. This year alone, up until May 31st of this year, we’ve already had 504 calls for service involving mental health. That’s trending right now at 12 percent of our calls for service.”
But Dodge also talked about a program that they had in place to help these people…
“Last spring we started the Mobile Crisis Intervention team. It consists of one police officer partnered with a psychiatric nurse and they go out on the streets either once or twice a week for four hours, and they seek out those clients that are causing the police or Northern Health high levels of service. They are regular clients, we’re always having to see them anyway, so we create a list and those two people go out and find them and see what they can do for them.”
Since April of 2019, Dodge says they’ve actually made 259 street contacts, 167 home visits and 177 referrals for everything from medical appointments, housing, food security and drug treatment.
He says the nurse even gives medication on the street to these clients if she has been in contact with their doctor.
Dodge says the program is a huge success, which led the defund the police conversation.
Mayor Bob Simpson…
“I think at the heart of the defund the police campaign is we need more resources for these kinds of things so you don’t end up in extremists. So rather than defund the RCMP I think we need to be looking at how do we match RCMP resources with more resources on mental health and addictions side of things and more community resources.”
Simpson noted that he was going to make it one of the agenda items for the next Public Safety and Policing meeting, so they can actually address some of the concerns and issues that are being raised today.