Penticton council to consider call for provincially funded mental health worker and RCMP partner – Summerland Review

RCMP Superintendent Brian Hunter said he was pushing for a similar mental health program with Interior Health. (Penticton City Council Stream)

Penticton council to consider calling in provincially funded mental health worker and RCMP partner

Similar ride programs are used in Kamloops and other communities.

Amid a growing mental health crisis that is consuming more and more RCMP resources, the Penticton City Council is considering a call for the province to fund a “Car 40” type program.

This program, used in Kamloops and other communities, pairs a mental health professional with a police officer to respond to calls from people experiencing mental health issues.

RCMP officers in Penticton are currently handling twice as many mental health calls, per capita, as Kelowna, Kamloops or Vernon, according to recent data. Brian Hunter provided the city council.

Hunter himself had said he was pushing a similar program with Interior Health.

“I would love it, the members would love it. We are not trained to deal with these critical situations. Our training is not focused on mental health,” he said.

The proposal, if approved by council on February 15, would head to the Southern Interior Local Government Association for discussion before potentially being sent to the BC Union of Municipalities later this year.

The resolution put on the council agenda calls for a sustainably funded, provincially integrated program with the goal of diverting people with mental health problems from the criminal justice system to reduce the number of unnecessary hospital admissions and the impact on police resources.

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