Vernon's top cop reviewing slow response to call about knife-wielding man at seniors' home | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon's top cop reviewing slow response to call about knife-wielding man at seniors' home

The Vernon Restholm.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/The Vernon Restholm
August 20, 2019 - 4:00 PM

VERNON - The North Okanagan's top cop says she is looking into the concerns raised by a Vernon seniors' home which says it waited too long for police to arrive while a man brandishing a knife tried to break-in.

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Supt. Shawna Baher told iNFOnews.ca she was "committed to resolving" the concerns raised by the retirement home and would ensure "everyone has the correct facts on what occurred."

The issue stems from an incident Aug. 14 when the manager of the Vernon Restholm, Jerry Tellier, says his staff waited over half-an-hour for police to arrive after a man armed with a knife started kicking at the centre's doors and yelling for staff to open up.

Tellier said the incident started just before 5:30 p.m. at the 30 Avenue seniors centre, when what he believes to be a homeless man started banging and kicking on the doors and yelling to be allowed in. After five minutes one of the two staff members on-site called 911 to report what was happening.

Ten minutes later as the man became more aggressive staff called 911 again, now even more scared and worried about their 48 residents.

"(The individual) took patio furniture and was throwing it all over the place," Tellier said.

Seven minutes later when staff saw the man was now brandishing a knife they called 911 for the third time at 5:52 p.m., but still waited for a further 12 minutes for police to arrive, said Tellier.

Tellier said the length of time his staff had to wait is unacceptable.

Supt. Baher said 911 calls are prioritized when they are received and dispatched accordingly. As the man's behaviour escalated from the first call to the last it moved higher in priority.

Baher said two officers were dispatched at 6:04 p.m. and arrived at the seniors' home within three minutes.

Tellier said the man was arrested without incident when police arrived.

Baher said police recommended charges of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and mischief to the B.C. Prosecution Service. The man was released on a promise to appear in court and an undertaking not to attend the Vernon Restholm.

Tellier said police told him they were extremely busy that night and he understands why calls are prioritized, but questions why it took police 12 minutes to arrive once they were told the man had a knife and why police weren't dispatched immediately?

Baher said the RCMP's Operations Communication Centre was currently reviewing the calls made on this matter.

"Until I review the matter personally, I am not able to comment further," Baher said in an email.

Although the man was arrested without incident when the officers arrived Tellier was unhappy with their behaviour.

"I asked the officer what took him so long to get here?" he said. "I raised my voice... (the officer) raised his voice even louder."

As a former police officer, Tellier said he was also unhappy with the lack of investigation carried out by the officers.

"I was a cop for enough years to know that there's far more to it that they could have done," he said. "A guy that was terrorizing 50 people, brandishing a knife, property damage."

Tellier said he has filed a complaint with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner regarding the officer and the length of time waited.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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