BC RCMP Southeast District Commander Addresses Wang Wellness Check

RCMP

Statement of BC RCMP Southeast District Commander - Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli on July 2, 2020

 

Good morning,

** I want to first acknowledge we are on the unceded traditional territory of the Okanagan Nation **

My name is Brad Haugli and I am the District Commander for the RCMP Southeast District, which primarily encompasses the southern portion of BC, overseeing nearly 1,300 employees in 45 detachments, providing service to a population base exceeding 760,000.

The last number of weeks have highlighted law enforcement in this country, most of which has not been positive. For me, this has initiated numerous conversations with my team, colleagues, many community stakeholders, and with my family and friends. This is why I am here before you...

I want you to know I have heard your concerns.

As I stated, high public confidence is what we strive for and when we become aware of concerning behaviour, we need to assure the public that we are taking the necessary steps to gather all the facts, using legislated processes to make a determination on what occurred, and to hold our members accountable.

As soon as the video showing a portion of the UBCO student wellness check was shared with Kelowna Detachment senior management and I, we directed that a statutory and code of conduct investigation be mandated immediately. The statutory investigation has been made a priority and will be advanced to an external police agency for review, ensuring a professional and thorough investigation has been done.

Once this is complete, the investigative findings will be shared with Crown Counsel for their review and determination if a criminal charge should be advanced. We will provide an update when the investigative findings are shared with Crown Counsel.

The code of conduct investigation will be advanced to the appropriate conduct authority for a determination within our legislated conduct process.

A part of the Code of Conduct process is to assess duty status of the subject member, and in this case, we made the decision as guided by policy to immediately remove the member from operational work and place into an administrative duty role. This is continually assessed.

I have initiated the public complaint process, so to ensure Ms. Mona Wang is provided the findings of our internal process, and to also allow our internal process to be reviewed by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP, if she has concerns. It should be noted that the IIO was not notified in this case given the disclosed injuries did not meet their threshold. I am aware that Ms. Wang filed a civil statement of claim and that process continues before the Courts.

We as an organization need to also internally review the circumstances from a policy and training perspective. Currently, our Division headquarters are reviewing our policies relating to mental health-related calls which include requests to ‘check well-being’ of a person.

Given the UBCO case and other wellness check cases highlighted throughout the Country, my team and I feel it is of upmost importance to expand the best practise of the Police and Crisis Team program in Southeast District.

Generally, mental health-related calls for service for police in Southeast District are increasing, and we are especially seeing an increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Year 2016 recorded 11,929 occurrences and year 2019 recorded 15,099 occurrences. That is a 21% increase over a four-year period. In the first five months of 2020, we have already experienced 6,446 occurrences, and the month of May recorded the highest number of occurrences ever recorded totalling 1,456.

For mental health-apprehensions under the Provincial Mental Health Act, the statistics are similar. 2016 had a total of 2220 and 2019 had a total of 2568, an increase of 14%. There have already been 1227 apprehensions in the first five months with again the month of May recording the highest monthly number with 279.

Currently, we only have two active Police and Crisis Team programs, one in Kamloops and the other in Kelowna. I want to commend Interior Health and our Detachments for creating the program, which has proven to be very effective in the response to mental health calls, de-escalating persons in crisis, and when treatment is necessary, easing their referral into the health care system to obtain the best possible care.

My goal is to greatly expand this needed service at existing locations as it is not always available, and introduce it into as many of our communities as possible.

I appreciate the commitment required by both Interior Health and us in the RCMP, but it is much needed. 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 important health information that will ensure a wholesome assessment of the person in crisis before attending the call. I want to build a sustained corporate-based infrastructure for all mental health related calls.

I have personally advanced my willingness and strong support directly to the CEO and President of Interior Health, hoping we can quickly come together and begin working on a sustained model for Southeast District. I am awaiting CEO Susan Brown’s response.

I continue to be proud of the profession I chose and I am proud to be a member of the RCMP. I believe high public confidence and accountability is a key element for success in policing no matter the colour of stripe you wear.

My team and I are committed to improving service delivery and to ensure public accountability and organizational transparency is observed, always striving for high public trust. I want to thank Chief and Councils and Local Governments who have personally reached out to me and my senior management team, expressing their continued support for the members policing their communities.

It is very important that the public understand that those dedicated women and men of the RCMP continue to professionally uphold public safety in our communities, no matter how adverse the conditions are.

I want to publicly recognize the exceptional work being done on a daily basis by those many dedicated and professional Mounties that service our communities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.

Thank-you,

Brad

C/Supt. Brad Haugli
District Commander
BC RCMP Southeast District