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 email@example.com.