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LETTER: Defunding police does not mean abolishing the RCMP

Officers are not trained the same way as mental health professionals

Re: “Where are all the pro-police stories?” Progress Letters, July 9, 2020.

I would like to address Mr. Keyes’ question regarding positive police stories. Mr. Keyes, no one is arguing that there are no good police officers, and I don’t believe most people are saying that the answer is to completely abolish the RCMP.

What people are saying is that it’s time for some of the funding the RCMP receives to be allocated differently. Community, mental health and addictions programs are underfunded or are not available. If these were expanded or even just improved upon, there would ultimately be less call for policing.

People are also asking for reform, such as in instances where police are accused of misconduct or discrimination.

Mr. Keyes asks, “Who are you going to call when your door gets kicked in by some home invaders?”

• READ MORE: LETTER: Where are all the pro-police stories?

The answer is still the police, because that is a violent situation and that is what the police are trained for. Police are not as well trained in psychology as mental health/social workers, so going into a mental health situation will lead to escalating it, just by their presence alone. Under the Mental Health Act, when a person is deemed a risk by the officer, they are within their right to physically detain the individual, like a criminal. They don’t charge the person and they are not taken to cells, but aside from that, there is almost no difference in how they are treated. If the person resists or is non-compliant, police will use force.

Police officers are not trained the same way as mental health professionals and it is unrealistic to expect them to be.

The police are already swamped with responsibilities and it seems we just keep asking them to do more.

This is part of what needs to be changed. Every year we’re adding more RCMP members.

Now ask yourself, are things improving?

I would suggest that they are not. Homelessness, addiction, and mental health issues are still huge problems. We need to address the root of the issues. It’s like fighting a fire.You target the root of it, not the flames.

J. Meints

• READ MORE: Chilliwack Progress Letters

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