MAKE NO MISTAKE
'Mayor's Police Transition Report puts vulnerable people at risk'
BRENDA LOCKE, SURREY CITY COUNCILLOR
a former Minister of State for Mental Health and
Addiction Services, I find it unconscionable that the
Mayor’s Police Transition Report (Transition Report)
plans to reduce the Police Mental Health Team by 50%. By
the report’s own admission, “In some jurisdictions, up
to 40% of all police calls involve a person with an
apparent mental illness”.
Currently, the Surrey RCMP Police Mental Health and Outreach Team (PMHOT) comprised of 21 officers – 1 Staff Sgt., 2 Corporals each with 8 constables, that includes Car 67. Fraser Health provides 4 Psychiatric Nurses who actively work with the police officers.
The Transition Report is recommending that mental health team be reduced to only 11 officers comprised of one Sargent and ten Constables. The report suggests that the police will work with “community partners” to streamline the service.
That may be Vancouver’s solution, but they have significantly more health care facilities and resources.
It’s risky here because Surrey has not kept pace with the social and health care infrastructure needs of a city our size.
Surrey’s PMHOT is in high demand with calls such as domestic violence, complex mental break downs, suicide attempts, psychotic breaks, people living at high risk (homeless) as well as problematic substance use and addiction. The PMHOT works with many patients providing immediate mental health exams in their homes and linking them services to help divert them from our City’s only hospital.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, statistics show that “by the time we reach 40 years of age, half of the population will have had or will develop a mental health problem. About 17% of British Columbians – somewhere around 800,000 people – are experiencing a mental illness or substance use issue today.”
Like with the reduction in policing resources for Sophie’s Place, (the Child and Youth Abuse Team) the Transition Report will leave our young population, vulnerable and at risk. But no one is exempt, children to seniors and every age, income or cultural demographic.
Surrey’s RCMP was a pioneer with this progressive model of urban policing in 2001.
While other cities like are building similar teams for their own communities our Mayor is tearing ours down. This makes no sense at all.
It is puzzling how the Transition Report can claim they will be able to effectively replace the PMHOT including — Car 67 — when they are making this significant cut in resources and police staffing levels.
Now that the Mayor has eliminated the Public Safety Committee — in favour of his own handpicked Police Transition Committee — significant public safety concerns are being overlooked and genuine questions are being brushed aside.
Surrey residents should be
concerned about the Mayor’s direction of policing and
public safety in general in our city. There must be
proper checks and balances to ensure our public safety
Something as important as policing and public safety needs to have effective, open discussion and healthy debate.
We need to raise the bar, get beyond politics, and go through the Transition Report line by line. Mistakes in policing have very real consequences for our vulnerable citizens and for the community as a whole. Brenda Locke's city web page.