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EDITORIAL – Police wellness checks have a habit of leaving people less well

Still from video of Kelowna incident.

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

JUST WHEN ONE POLICE CONTROVERSY seems to be quieting down, a new one comes up.

Charges against Chief Allan Adam were dropped yesterday. That’s the one in which a 12-minute dash cam video showed him confronting and swearing at police during a check for an expired licence plate, then being violently tackled to the ground and arrested.

Dropping charges against him of assault and resisting arrest will serve to settle things down a little in that case, though an independent watchdog is still investigating.

But then there’s the latest video, this one of a Kelowna police officer dragging a university student down an apartment-block hallway, putting her foot on the woman’s head and, at one point, yanking her head up by her hair.

RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki must wake up these days wondering what new embarrassment she’ll be faced with. One of the disturbing things about the Kelowna incident is that it took place during a so-called “wellness check.”

These wellness checks seem to have a habit of going wrong. In case you were wondering what a wellness check is supposed to involve, according to one RCMP description, it “provides home visits, upon request, when a friend or family member has expressed concern about a person’s current health or safety.”

Often, they involve people with mental health challenges.

A civil lawsuit against police in the Kelowna case alleges that the student suffered emotional and physical abuse including cuts and bruises as well as psychological trauma.

RCMP, on the other hand, say she was initially unresponsive and then combative. Why the officer found it necessary to drag her down the hallway to the front door instead of calling for assistance awaits clarification.

Four people have died in Canada since April during police wellness checks. They’re a valuable service but one that will undoubtedly become less likely to be used given that more and more people emerge considerably less well than they were before.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

 

About Mel Rothenburger (7568 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

7 Comments on EDITORIAL – Police wellness checks have a habit of leaving people less well

  1. Sport here….

    while i do agree that in some ‘wellness’ scenarios, your alternative idea would work, albeit with those RCMP members still carrying firearms. I say this because of the unknown level of craziness that could be confronting them….ie. .A person with a knife & struggling with mental health can be a serious threat to the public and RCMP member.

    Personally, for “some” situations, I’d like to see a re-introduction of well-designed rural-like institutions where attendees could get readily available professional services & basic skills training & a phase-in release program > Let’s call it ‘Wellness Centers”.

  2. Tony Brumell // June 26, 2020 at 11:06 PM // Reply

    Blah blah blah. you can make up any scenario you want. I (maybe ) wasn’t completely serious. but do you have the answer sport ??

  3. Tony Brumell // June 25, 2020 at 10:47 AM // Reply

    Pierre ! There is nothing new about the old RCMP pandemic. They’ve been doing this S:::t for a
    hundred years. They have gotten away with it because nobody could refute the old ” I feared for my life “crap. What if I feared for my life ??????? A number of years ago (15 to 20 ? ) RCMP training was cut by 50 % and the gross tactacle and social failures have increased because of it.The police ( RCMP.OPP, QPP etc ) are all guilty of an ingrained racial arrogance and ignorance . To say nothing of the politicians .
    A new division must be formed made up of special trained officers who’s job is to de escalate situations to peaceful levels using know and medically approved actions . ie If you can walk away and let everything cool down to save a life then do it.
    We should actually understand that a person with a knife (or stapler ) need not be a threat to life and any one trained in any marshal art could without significant threat to themselves or assailant disarm the individual. Hell ! any cowboy with a lasso could do the same.
    Body cameras that can’t be turned off have become a necessity. I also believe that WE should consider the thought that no white officer should ever be sent out on an inter racial call.

    • John Noakes // June 26, 2020 at 6:32 AM // Reply

      Robert Dziekamski died in Vancouver airport.
      Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre committed suicide in 2013.
      The Global News article describes a culture of systemic harassment in the RCMP.

      https://globalnews.ca/news/5365649/rcmp-robert-dziekanski-taser-death/

    • Tony…seriously, no white RCMP member should be sent on an inter-racial call?

      Caller to RCMP Dispatch:….”please, please I need help, someones trying to break into my house!”

      Dispatch to Caller….”Ok, will do, but hold on, I need to ask some questions. First, describe the intruder – is he / she White or a Visible Minority?

      Caller….”I can’t tell. I don’t want to get near the door or windows. Please, please hurry as I’m frightened”

      Dispatcher…”I understand, but please be patient. But i really need to have you provide clarity on the intruders ethnicity. New Govt Appeasement Rules & I need to ensure I send a non-White RCMP member if the intruder is non-White.

      Caller…”help, help….he (or she) has broken through the door and is coming down the hallway”

      Dispatcher….”Darn.. Can you see the Intruders face or hands?”

      Caller….”NO I can’t, He / she has a mask and gloves on”.

      Dispatcher….” Darn (again). Ok, let’s try this. Please hand your phone to the Intruder so I can I ask them their ethnicity. We’ve gone through mandatory and intensive training for such an event”.

      ….and on and on and on….

  4. John Noakes // June 25, 2020 at 6:49 AM // Reply

    Has this sort of stuff been going on for a long time and has become known because of videos? What happened at Vancouver airport was an embarrassment for our country, especially after the cover up attempt failed.
    Is the length of time for training long enough and are the right skills being taught before a person is given access to firearms, for example?

  5. No question there is a lot of food for though in what you wrote Mr. MR. However that last paragraph is a bit dramatic? Four people have died, four too many perhaps but “…given that more and more people emerge considerably less well than they were before.” More and more? You mean there is another “pandemic” developing in Canada this time at the hands of the police?

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