Last year was the busiest year in terms of calls for service at the Campbell River RCMP for at least 10 years, RCMP spokesperson Const. Maury Tyre says.
“This makes January 2021’s file count thus far concerning when we compare to our 2020 numbers,” he adds.
At the end of business on Jan. 27, 2021, the Campbell River RCMP had already responded to 1,119 calls for service. At the end of the same date in 2020, they had responded to 995 files. That means a 12.5 per cent increase in calls for service so far in 2021, and many of those calls have been very labour intensive, Tyre adds.
And one of the biggest demands on RCMP resources are mental health files. Tyre gave two examples of mental health crises that police have dealt with in the past two weeks, and there are many more. The examples were given in order to provide context to the nature and understanding of mental health related calls that police deal with on a regular basis. These kinds of calls are on the rise across the country and require patient and mentally agile officers to deal with them, Tyre says.
“It’s always our hope that when someone does need to be apprehended under the mental health act that it can be done in a peaceful manner,” Const. Tyre says. “However as Mental Health situations are entirely unpredictable, officers have to be ready to protect themselves and the public if the subject gets violent.”
On Jan. 12, RCMP members were called to a remote locale 30 minutes outside of Campbell River to assess the mental health of a 36-year-old male with violent tendencies and concurrent substance use issues that had indicated he had no interest in going with police in a peaceful manner. What occurred in effect was a five-hour negotiation that ended peacefully with the male apprehended under the Mental Health Act and transported to Campbell River Hospital.
“This event is an excellent example of the patience and care that our members in Campbell River and across the country take when dealing with mental health calls,” Tyre says. “However, it is also a stark display of the resourcing necessary to deal with mental health situations in a peaceful and safe manner which is what the public expects in these types of situations.
“Four officers were required to attend this event over a half hour away from the city, seriously depleting resources within the community and capabilities in dealing with lesser priority files. Our members showed amazing commitment and stayed several hours beyond the end of their 12-hour shifts in order to ensure a peaceful resolution and make sure the community of Campbell River had the staff it needed to respond to priority files.”
On Jan. 14, members were called to a support society location to deal with a male suffering from a severe psychotic episode. The 20-year-old male believed that people were trying to control his mind and kill him and the people around him.
The male’s psychological break from reality had been the result of untreated mental health issues and self medication with potent illicit drugs. Campbell River members were able to peacefully get the male out of the building, treating the individual as they would under VIP protection to make him feel comfortable enough to leave the safety of his sheltered spot and transport him to Campbell River Hospital.
“This event was another reminder of the inter-relationship between mental health and addiction. The issues police deal with are very rarely, one or the other, but usually a mixture of causes and issues,” said Const. Tyre. “The situations are often very volatile and one wrong word or action can trigger a violent response. At times it may not be ideal for police to be the ones dealing with these crises, but it is the very real threat of violence that requires their assistance in these matters.”