Kamloops cops took personal videos of homeless shelter, made 'disrespectful' comments | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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

Alfred Achoba of Canadian Mental Health Association is "fed up" with Kamloops RCMP interactions at local shelters.
Image Credit: CMHA Kamloops

A Kamloops shelter provider says police have shown a pattern of disrespect towards their clients, recently taking videos and making "inappropriate" comments while responding to two overdose calls.

Earlier this month, three Kamloops RCMP officers got to the Merit Place shelter for an overdose call and joked about wasting naloxone on the person who needed it, with one suggesting he should keep it for himself, according to a witness.

Another officer responded and said "Yeah, for the people who actually matter," according to Alfred Achoba of Canadian Mental Health Association.

Achoba was reading from an incident report that came after Kamloops RCMP investigated his complaint about their behaviour at the emergency shelter April 4.

One officer commented that a shelter client smelled "like shit." Then they "yelled" at a client who was laying on the floor to get up before giving him naloxone.

A paramedic got to the scene and told the person who overdosed there were people in the shelter who wanted to make sure he was okay. An officer turned to another beside him and said: "Not all of us."

Police left before the paramedics because a shelter employee told them leave if they weren't going to help, Achoba said.

Kamloops RCMP later formally apologized to CMHA for the three officers' behaviour at the scene.

"This has not been the first. This is just me getting fed up," Achoba said. "If I did that, I'd probably be out of work."

A previous incident was on March 25, also an overdose call. That time just one officer responded and started recording a video of the clients inside the shelter.

"In a building where we have to uphold privacy of people who are sometimes not fully clothed, this officer was actually videoing," Achoba said. "It's on camera. We've given the footage to the RCMP and I know that one is still under investigation."

Achoba wouldn't provide the names of the individual officers who he complained about, but he said it's part of a pattern behaviour of police who respond to their shelters, noting that Merit Place at the former Greyhound bus shelter is the "worst" one.

"I feel like this has been an ongoing issue where we've witnessed unprofessional conduct and I'm sure other (shelter) providers have experienced this too," he said. "It's to a point where we've had multiple incidents."

Kamloops RCMP did not provide any details about the incidents at the CMHA shelter, but also did not deny that it happened.

"We are disappointed this occurred and continuously work toward improving our professionalism in the community. We continue to hold ourselves to the highest standards and expect the same of our community partners," Supt. Jeff Pelley said in a written statement to iNFOnews.ca.

Pelley said he expects the March 25 incident to be resolved soon.

"The complaints... were received by the Kamloops RCMP Detachment and were reviewed immediately by myself and our Professional Standards Unit, which conducted a review and addressed the performance concerns with the responding officers, under our public complaints procedures and protocols. One of the complaints was resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant... and we expect resolution of the second one shortly. We have not been made aware of any other complaints since," he continued.

Achoba suggested Kamloops would be worse off without the shelters and facilities CMHA provides.

"Could you imagine how busy RCMP would be if we were to shut our doors?" he said.

Achoba praised Supt. Pelley for dealing with complaints from the shelter, but he's not convinced it will inform the behaviour of individual officers too.

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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