Kamloops cops need sensitivity training after incident: Shelter provider | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Kamloops cops need sensitivity training after incident: Shelter provider

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The top cop at Kamloops RCMP apologized on behalf of his officers after several of them made insensitive comments at a local shelter and another took videos of the residents, but a local shelter provider is urging them to get better training.

"As much as I and my staff appreciate the apology, I also encourage the detachment to offer training to those involved," Alfred Achoba, executive director Canadian Mental Health Association Kamloops said.

Achoba told iNFOnews.ca police responded to the Merit Place shelter earlier this month and made disrespectful comments toward a person who overdosed.

Three officers joked April 4 about saving an overdose-reversing naloxone shot for themselves and that they should keep it for people who "actually matter", Achoba said.

READ MORE: Kamloops cops took personal videos of homeless shelter, made 'disrespectful' comments

On March 25, an officer, who wasn't at the April 4 overdose, recorded videos of the clients inside the shelter with the social media app Snapchat. Achoba is concerned about the privacy of the residents inside, which was violated when the officer recorded the video. It's not uncommon for residents there to be in various states of undress.

He complained to the detachment and Supt. Jeff Pelley investigated the incidents along with the RCMP professional standards unit later issuing an apology to Achoba.

Pelley confirmed the incident and the investigations, one of which is still ongoing. RCMP reviewed and "addressed the performance concerns" under its protocols, he said.

"One of the complaints was resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant," he said in a written statement.

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It's not clear what consequences, if any, was in store for the officers involved. Achoba, however, said he's not looking for punishment.

"I got an apology. The apology did not say there's any prevention tied to it and that's a piece I felt I need to let them know. I would suggest those officers be provided training on sensitivity and professionalism," he said.

That could include discrimination, conflict resolution and cultural awareness, he said.

"This is something that could help the officers in the long run in communities with vulnerable populations, including shelter staff. I can say the shelter staff are also hesitant to call and I've never seen that."

When he told iNFOnews.ca of the incidents, he said he was "fed up" with the responses from Kamloops RCMP at shelter and supportive housing facilities, adding he's heard similar complaints from other non-profits.

He said he's empathetic toward RCMP officers who are frustrated with ongoing mental health calls or responding to the same people on an ongoing basis, but he worries for how that translates to their behaviour on the street.

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"If this is happening in shelter, I wonder what is happening on the street for the folks who overdose in the back alley and help is needed," Achoba said.

"I pulled, over the last few days since we started the Curling Club shelter until now, hundreds of incident reports where we didn't get the support we needed. This is either comments RCMP made or just plain ignoring us, and that's just us," he said.

Achoba said he has a meeting scheduled with Pelley to discuss his concerns and is open to offering free mental health training for local officers.

iNFOnews.ca reached out to other similar service providers about whether they've had similar experiences with local RCMP.

Bob Hughes of ASK Wellness said his organization has "no concerns" with the working relationship with Kamloops RCMP. The Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society did not respond.

It also appears the officers involved will receive no supplemental discipline. Kamloops RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Crystal Evelyn did not respond to follow up questions on if those officers will be investigated under the RCMP code of conduct.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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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