How Kamloops bylaw officers are doing things differently - InfoNews

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How Kamloops bylaw officers are doing things differently

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February 08, 2018 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - Bylaw officers in Kamloops now have a new tool under their belt when it comes to enforcing municipal laws.

John Ramsay, bylaw services manager for the City of Kamloops, says his department has undergone a training course from the Canadian Mental Health Association on mental health first aid.

As the province continues to deal with the opioid crisis, the City of Kamloops has discussed on a number of occasions the need for a four-pillar approach to treating addicts. The pillars include enforcement, treatment, harm reduction and prevention. 

"Enforcement’s one piece, but the treatment, prevention and education, they all go hand-in-hand," Ramsay says. "They go at different paces."

With this new training bylaw officers have undergone, Ramsay says it gives them a new tool to provide initial help where mental health issues may be present.

"Someone with mental health issues... may react negatively to a uniformed person," Ramsay says, adding that some people with mental health or substance abuse issues could be unpredictable. "It doesn’t mean they’re dangerous, but you should be aware of all the stuff that may be triggers to them, and how you can maybe de-escalate some things."

De-escalation is a valuable tool for all law enforcement officers, Ramsay says. Having a good set of de-escalation skills can minimize the risk of injury or even prevent fatalities.

The Canadian Mental Health Association provided two days of training to the bylaw department, which Ramsay says has 14 officers and three crew leaders. Being able to spot where mental health treatment is needed is going to make a difference, he says.

"Basically what you’re talking about is the risk factors and warning signs for mental health problems," he says. "Even if we’re in a camp and we can recognize some signs of mental health issues, then we can make sure that we direct them to the proper wrap around services to help."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ashley Legassic or call 250-319-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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