RCMP Southeast District Commander, Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

Southeast District Commander wants to increase Police and Crisis Team program

In one of only a few appearances since gaining his position with the RCMP five years ago, Southeast Division Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli held a press conference regarding the concerns over recent incidents with law enforcement.

Haugli told reporters Thursday (June 2) that he has heard many concerns from the public, local officials, friends and family regarding the actions of several South East Division RCMP members.

“High public confidence is what we strive for, and when we become aware of concerning behaviour we need to ensure the public we are taking the necessary steps to gather all the facts, using legislative processes to make a determination on what occurred and hold our members accountable,” he explained.

This comes after a video was released last week showing Kelowna RCMP officer Const. Lacey Browning dragging UBCO student Mona Wang down a hall and pressing her head to the floor with a boot during a wellness check. Browning is facing a civil suit for that incident and a petition calling for her to be fired and charged has garnered over 350,000 signatures. Currently, Browning remains with the Kelowna detachment on desk duty.

When questioned about the video of the officer dragging the student, Haugli replied he was deeply concerned when he first viewed it.

“I am sorry to Ms. Wang for what occurred. If that was my family member or friend I would want answers as well,” he said.

A Code of Conduct investigation is underway into the incident and Haugli said because of the high priority of this investigation it will be advanced to the Abbotsford RCMP for a review. However, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of British Columbia, a civilian-led police oversight agency responsible for conducting investigations into incidents of death or serious harm that may have been the result of the actions of a police officer, will not be investigating this incident. Haugli said despite Wang’s civil suit against the RCMP member and the detachment there was not enough reason for the IIO to become involved.

READ MORE: UBCO student sues Kelowna RCMP officer for alleged assault during wellness check

The investigation will be handed over to Crown Counsel, which should conclude sometime in July, according to Haugli.

“Given the UBCO case and other wellness check cases highlighted throughout this country my team and I feel it is of the utmost importance to expand the best practices of the Police and Crisis Team program (PACT) in the Southeast District,” said Haugli. “Generally mental health-related calls for service on the Southeast District are increasing. We are especially seeing an increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The PACT consists of a dedicated psychiatric nurse and a specially trained RCMP officer who patrols the streets and responds to calls.

In the last four years, there has been a 21 per cent increase in mental health check occurrences. In the first five months of 2020, the Southeast District of the RCMP experienced 6,446 occurrences and in May the highest number ever of mental health check occurrences was recorded, totalling 1,456.

Haugli expressed RCMP should be a support mechanism when calls come in for people in crisis and such calls “should and could be assessed by a trained mental health worker.”

“My goal is to greatly expand this needed service (PACT) in existing locations and it is not always available, and introduce it in as many communities as possible,” stated Haugli.

Currently, only Kamloops and Kelowna have a PACT program.

“If there is an inability to provide a dedicated Interior Health nurse for every call, then I want to implement a real-time information-sharing model that provides our members with important health information that will ensure a wholesome assessment of the person in crisis before attended the call,” he explained.

When asked about privacy concerns prompted by such a model, which would allow RCMP officers access to personal medical records, Haugli said they’re outweighed by the wellbeing of the person in crisis.

Haugli said he is looking to work with the CEO of Interior Health to increase the PACT program, which currently only consists of one officer.

Haugli would not comment on how many officers within Southeast Division were on administrative duty at this time but said all of the region’s 1,300 officers are “concerned on the support from the public.”

“My members, in my view, are doing an exceptional job. There is a number of dedicated women and men that show up for work every day, even through the pandemic,” he added.

READ MORE: Petition calling for Kelowna Mountie to be fired, charged nears 350K signatures

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Parents split on return to school in Langley

Firm opinions are coming in to DPAC, but it’s unclear whether there’s a majority view

VIDEO: One reportedly injured in fire that destroyed Langley shop

Blaze in 5300 block of 244 Street drew massive response

B.C. zoo names new grizzly cub ‘Henry’ in honour of Dr. Bonnie Henry

The top doctor’s surname was chosen from a list of around 6,600 entries to Greater Vancouver Zoo

Start of school pushed back in Langley

Teachers will get more time to prepare for the changed classroom environment

Displaced tenant ‘heartbroken’ after Langley City condo robbed after fire

Wedding rings of Michelle Buchan’s have since been recovered, but much is still missing

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

VIDEO: B.C. community rallies to save snared eagle

Revelstoke climber scales tree to save the raptor

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Canucks fan risks life to celebrate at Surrey intersection

‘All fun and games until somebody falls out an open side door of the van’

‘Agitated’ man pulls out knife on 3 people in Abbotsford

Witnesses sought for incident on Monday night near city hall

Most Read