White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)

White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

White Rock’s top cop says his detachment has become a “default mental health response agency” and that this reality – of routinely responding to calls that are more appropriate for a healthcare professional – “denies people in crisis a proper service.”

In a report released Monday (Oct. 19), titled ‘The intersection of mental health and policing in White Rock,’ Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls shares statistics and recommendations for change, including one suggesting that the City of White Rock start billing Fraser Health for mental-health apprehensions in which waits for assessment at Peace Arch Hospital (PAH) exceed 30 minutes.

“The prioritizing at hospitals of mental health apprehensions for assessment has been problematic across many hospitals and is not isolated to White Rock,” Pauls notes in the report.

He explains that at Peace Arch Hospital, patients apprehended under the Mental Health Act (MHA) wait – in police custody – anywhere from 2.5 to six hours in emergency to be assessed by a doctor, while the maximum wait recommended by the Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale that is used to prioritize emergency patients is 30 minutes for mental-health complaints.

A review of White Rock detachment files found that, annually, the city’s officers respond to around 150 such calls, resulting in approximately 375 hours of police time being spent at PAH waiting with such patients, rendering those officers unable to respond to other calls, including priority emergencies.

“As this issue has persisted for years, the White Rock RCMP suggests that the City of White Rock invoices Fraser Health in 15 minute increments for any mental health apprehension waits that exceed 30 minutes.”

Noting the billing practice aligns with that of BC Ambulance Service – which invoices hospitals for any waits in emergency that exceed 30 minutes – Pauls says the city following suit becomes a matter of fiscal accountability.

But the issue goes deeper than operational finances, Pauls says.

READ MORE: The intersection of mental health and policing in White Rock

The current police-response model that sees officers tasked out for reports of deteriorating mental health, suicidal thoughts and other wellness checks or MHA apprehensions “does not benefit some of society’s most vulnerable,” and, highlights “that our healthcare professionals need the support and mandate to deliver a robust frontline response.”

Pauls initiated a review of his detachment’s wellness checks, mental health calls and interactions with homeless people “to better understand why the police are taking on the responsibility of social and health issues that likely should be responded to by other specialized service providers.”

The review was underway when Pauls in August called for a “healthcare-led intervention model” for dealing with people whose criminal activities are clearly tied to mental health and substance use. That call followed the arrest of a woman who had been reported to White Rock RCMP more than 65 times in 2020 as of that month.

READ MORE: White Rock’s top cop calls for ‘healthcare led intervention model’

Pauls said at that time that with no system in place for people to report mental-health concerns that would invoke a more appropriate, specialized response, “it falls upon the police.”

Other statistics shared in his report include that White Rock RCMP responds to approximately 6,600 calls for service every year, with an estimated one-third of those related to mental health, including substance use.

Other conclusions include that police response is rarely appropriate for calls from supported-care facilities regarding a senior resident displaying violent behaviour; and, that it is “unfair” to expect frontline officers to have the advanced mental health assessment skills necessary to properly service the diverse needs of those in a health crisis.

“The police role should be limited to imminent crisis intervention where safety is a concern, and not mental health assessments and mental health guidance, which is unreasonable to place upon the police,” Pauls says.

Further recommendations Pauls makes include having a mobile mental-health crisis response service for the region, staffed only by mental-health professionals who may request police assistance as deemed necessary; and, that Fraser Health’s advanced sobering and assessment centre, Quibble Creek, be expanded to welcome intoxicated subjects transported by White Rock RCMP.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

mental healthRCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police will be out in force to target drunk drivers this weekend as part of ICBC’s annual CounterAttack campaign. (Contributed - ICBC)
Police launch Christmas CounterAttack this weekend

On average, 11 people are killed in crashes involving impaired driving on the Island every year

Victoria police arrested a man in a Yates Street grocery store Nov. 27 after he refused to wear a mask. (Black Press Media File photo)
Belligerent man arrested in Victoria grocery store after refusing to wear mask

Officers fined the man $230 under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

A 43-year-old woman is facing charges for impaired driving and leaving the scene of a crash after attempting to flee from police by driving down the beach in front of the Oak Bay Marina on Nov. 23. (Oak Bay Police/Twitter)
Victoria woman drives over seawall onto beach near Oak Bay Marina

Driver faces charges for fleeing crash, refusing breathalyzer test

Friends with Dorothy opens in Victoria.
LGBT2Q+ lounge Friends with Dorothy opens second location in Victoria

The Kelowna-based lounge plans to open in Victoria mid-December

Sig
Traffic delays expected on Monday from highway construction in Sooke

Single-lane alternating traffic between Otter Road and Caldwell Road

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MP to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MacGregor’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Most Read