Mental health key theme in Steven Rigby inquest recommendations

The jury in the inquest into the death of Steven Rigby has directed seven recommendations to the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS).

Rigby, 27, died on Dec 22, 2018 after a confrontation with police.

In a statement to CTV News, SPS said some of the recommendations have already been identified as priorities and work as been done in advancing them.

“Several of the recommendations centered on mental health as it pertains to police operations as well as our internal support,” the statement reads.

“This is reflective of the significance mental health and addictions have in policing, and the recommendations will be useful as we plan for community needs.

“As next steps in an established process, the SPS will assess each recommendation and consider the impact of implementation before reporting back to the Office of the Chief Coroner.”

The full recommendations include:

  • To Saskatoon Police Service and RCMP - To increase training and resources into centralized communications systems between SPS and RCMP.
  • To Saskatoon Police Service and RCMP - Task senior administrators and officers to audit and administer mental health training to officers and staff. For example, but not limited to, roles and responsibilities with the mental health services act.
  • To Saskatoon Police Service and RCMP - To consider a mandatory and quickened, within one to two weeks, discussion or check-in of involved officers with a psychologist after a critical incident. Psychologist should also be included in critical incident debrief.
  • To Saskatoon Police Service - To increase psychologists on staff with Saskatoon Police Service to assist with critical incidents.
  • To Saskatoon Police Service - To increase training and availability of less lethal weaponry with Saskatoon Police Service.
  • To Saskatoon Police Service - To task Saskatoon Police Service senior administrators and officers with investigating technological remote surveillance for improving site communication with Saskatoon Police Service headquarters.
  • To Saskatoon Police Service - To task Saskatoon Police Service senior administrators and critical negotiation team to audit their procedures, roles, and responsibilities, as well as recording equipment for alternative means of recording voice calls in which standard equipment is not available.
  • To Saskatchewan Health Authority and University of Saskatchewan - To increase annual training spots for psychiatrists within the province of Saskatchewan.
  • To Saskatchewan Health Authority - To increase allocated resources into centralizing health records with e-health for ease of access by physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists.
  • To Saskatchewan Health Authority - To assess the viability of creating a program between social workers and SHA in relation to educating and assisting individuals suffering from concurrent disorders on a needed basis.

In a statement the Saskatchewan Health Authority said once the official coroners report has been received it will need to review it in detail and then consider the final recommendations within it’s current and future operations.

“These are complex recommendations and we anticipate this review process will take at least a few weeks after we have received the report,” the statement reads.

“SHA appreciates the recommendations of the inquest and will need to review them in detail prior to responding.”

In a statement, RCMP say they welcome any opportunity to examine existing procedures and policies to ensure the best service to the public.

“The recommendations are reviewed by the Saskatchewan RCMP’s Criminal Operations Unit who is responsible for researching them thoroughly with all stakeholders,” the statement said.

“We take these recommendations seriously and will provide a full written response directly to the Coroner on each recommendation directed at the Saskatchewan RCMP.”

The interim provincial head of the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine’s department of psychiatry, Malin Clark, said teaching capacity is the limiting factor for increasing training spots.

“It will be difficult to increase training spots without increased availability of teachers, which means having more psychiatrists in Saskatchewan who can take on academic roles and teaching responsibilities in the college as part of their practise,” she said.

“On a brighter note, new training programs in child and adolescent psychiatry and in forensic psychiatry have been added in the past few years.”