RCMP staying mum on decriminalizing illegal drug users - InfoNews

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RCMP staying mum on decriminalizing illegal drug users

Kelowna RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle was not made available to iNFOnews.ca to talk about calls for decriminalizing people using illegal drugs.
April 27, 2019 - 7:00 AM

KELOWNA - Calls to cut overdose deaths by decriminalizing people using illegal drugs appear to have fallen on fallow ground.

Yesterday, April 24, B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, asked that authorities start talking seriously about treating drug addicts rather than arresting them and sending them to jail.

She was joined at her Victoria press conference by Del Manak, chief of the Victoria Police Department who fully supported the concept. He said his department already “dedicates zero resources” to people who simply possess drugs for their own use.

So what do local RCMP police chiefs say?

As part of a national policing department, they either can't say or won't say how local detachments will respond. A request for an interview with Kelowna RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle was referred by Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, who is the media relations officer in Kelowna, to the B.C. RCMP Communications Service team. 

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Chris Manseau said: “It would (be) inappropriate for the RCMP to comment, or give an opinion.”

“The RCMP is supportive of a comprehensive response to illicit drug abuse and recognizes that this is an evolving issue in Canada,” the email continued. “As potential initiatives are brought forward, the RCMP, where appropriate, will engage in discussions with community leaders and government as well as other policing partners."

At the press conference, Henry was asked if the province could have any power over the federal RCMP. She had suggested amending the B.C. Police Act to instruct police not to arrest people for possession.

“The RCMP are contracted to the province, so they come under the Police Act,” she said.

Henry also failed to win any support from Minister of Public Health and Solicitor-General Mike Farnworth who said this is a federal issue.

“We don’t believe that one province can go it alone,” Farnworth was quoted in a Vancouver Sun story. “It’s not appropriate for me, as minister, to be directing police in how they conduct their operations.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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