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

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

Ben Maartman, pictured in his ‘farm office’ has been elected as Area H director. (Ben Maartman photo)
Ben Maartman declared Director of CVRD Area H

Maartman will be sworn in on December 8

Beautiful morning with the sun peaking through, as viewed from Thetis Island. (Photo by Kelly Bannister)
November characterized by a record high, no snow and plenty of rain in Chemainus region

Temperature almost hits the 20 degree Celsius mark on Nov. 4

Applications for the OCP Steering Committee can be dropped off at Ladysmith City Hall or emailed to info@ladysmith.ca. (File photo)
Town seeks community members for OCP steering committee

The deadline for applications is January 4, 2021, at 4 p.m.

Three Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store volunteers have tested positive for COVID-19. (Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary photo)
Three Ladysmith Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Store volunteers test positive for COVID-19

Anyone who volunteered at Thrift Store between Nov. 14 - Nov. 28 is asked to monitor for symptoms

Ben Maartman, left, and Murray McNab are running for regional director for Area H North Oyster-Diamond in a Cowichan Valley Regional District byelection later this month. (Photos submitted)
Preliminary Area H byelection results show Maartman up by seven votes, McNab to ask for recount

Results of the by-election to by finalized by noon on Tuesday, December 1

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

Dave Wallace coached the Parksville Royals for 23 years. (PQB News file photo)
B.C. baseball community mourns death of legendary Vancouver Island coach Dave Wallace

‘All who knew Dave and his passion for the game will miss him greatly’

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Most Read