RCMP Superintendent Brian Hunter said he was pushing for a similar mental health program with Interior Health. (City of Penticton council stream)

RCMP Superintendent Brian Hunter said he was pushing for a similar mental health program with Interior Health. (City of Penticton council stream)

Penticton council to consider call for provincially funded mental health worker and RCMP partner

Similar ridealong programs are in use in Kamloops and other communities

In the middle of a growing mental health crisis taking more and more resources from the RCMP, Penticton’s city council are considering a call for the province to fund a “Car 40”-type program.

This program, used in Kamloops and other communities, pairs a mental health professional with a police officer to respond to calls for people suffering from mental health issues.

RCMP officers in Penticton are currently handling twice as many mental health calls, per capita, as Kelowna, Kamloops or Vernon, according to recent information Supt. Brian Hunter provided to city council.

Hunter himself had said that he was pushing for a similar program with Interior Health.

“I would love it, the members would love it. We are not trained to deal with these critical situations. Our training isn’t focused on mental health,” he said.

READ MORE: “Officers are getting exhausted”: Penticton RCMP dealing with medical crisis on the streets

The proposal, if approved by council on Feb. 15, would head to the Southern Interior Local Government’s Association for discussion before potentially being sent to the Union of B.C. Municipalities later this year.

The resolution presented in the council agenda calls for a provincially integrated and sustainably funded program, with the aim of diverting those with mental health issues from the criminal justice system to reduce the number of unnecessary hospital admissions and the impact on police resources.

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