The BC Federation of Students condemns the violence perpetrated by the RCMP officer against a UBC Okanagan student during a “wellness check” in early 2020.
The willful ignorance and use of force against the student, which recently became public, is inexcusable. The officer in question demonstrated a clear lack of proper training and inability to deal with any mental health crisis or wellness checks — just as this has been demonstrated by police officers in other events across the country.
This level of violence is not new. Time and again it is proven that the police should not be conducting wellness checks or be the sole responders to such calls. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the largest mental health facility in Canada, states that the police should not be first responders at all for people in mental health crises. Mental health experts and registered psychiatric nurses should be the primary attendants in these cases and other wellness checks.
There needs to be a new way of moving forward when it comes to attending those in crisis. The system of armed officers with inadequate training continues to fail Canadians, sometimes resulting in violent death. The level of violence and humiliation, used in this case and so many others, only retraumatizes those in crisis.
Enough is enough. It is time to disentangle the police system from responding to instances that require social and medical responses. It is time that wellness checks be conducted by properly trained and resourced experts that have the means and ability to do so.
The BC Federation of Students calls on all levels of government to take action to hold the RCMP and other police forces accountable. It is time to conduct an independent review of policing practices, fire and charge Officers who use undue force, and adequately fund public health for safe and effective mental health intervention.