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MLA Parmar & west shore mayors attend Mobile Integrated Crisis Response Teams update

Constable-and-nurse teams attend 'mental health calls' in community.

ravi parmar, mayors, goodmanson, kobayashi, Marie-Térèse Little
Local MLA Ravi Parmar (Langford-Juan de Fuca) addressed media with three west shore mayors: Scott Goodmanson (Langford), Doug Kobayashi (Colwood), and Marie-Térèse Little (Metchosin); April 29, 2024 outside the West Shore RCMP detachment. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Monday April 29, 2024 | LANGFORD, BC Updated May 1, 2024]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

People experiencing a mental health crisis that RCMP say would require a police response are receiving “more appropriate supports” following the establishment of West Shore RCMP Mental Health Unit’s Mobile Integrated Crisis Response Team (MICR).

The unit pairs a frontline police officer with a registered nurse from Island Health.

Today community leaders gathered out front of the West Shore RCMP detachment in Langford to learn more about and acknowledge the work of the MICR. The mayors of west shore communities that pay to support the detachment joined the local MLA for the event.

colwood mayor, councillors
Colwood Mayor and Council attended the West Shore RCMP Mental Health Unit’s Mobile Integrated Crisis Response Team update on April 29, 2024 at the West Shore RCMP detachment (from left): David Grove, Kim Jordison, Ian Ward, Doug Kobayashi (Mayor), Cynthia Day, and Misty Olsen. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

West shore collaboration:

Ravi Parmar, MLA (Langford-Juan de Fuca) said that the support of the municipalities “through their budget processes” is appreciated.

Mayors in attendance were Scott Goodmanson (Langford), Doug Kobayashi (Colwood), and Marie-Térèse Little (Metchosin). Parmar noted support by the province and Island Health, currently with a budget of $375,000 per year. He hopes the program will roll out “all across the province”.

scott goodmanson, langford mayor
Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson at the West Shore RCMP event on April 29, 2024. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

“In the short time that it’s been in place we’re seeing valuable results,” said Parmar outdoors at the detachment today.

“This is only possible if all of us come together and work together to ensure that we can provide these supports. He said that the local mayors and councils made the decisions as part of their budget process to ensure that we continue to hire police dedicated to these crisis response needs,” said Parmar.

Parmar acknowledged the support of councils for the continued work of West Shore RCMP Superintendent Todd Preston at the detachment.

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“I am so grateful that our local municipalities, the RCMP, and Island Health have have worked collaboratively with the province to make this possible,” says local MLA Mitzi Dean (Esquimalt-Metchosin). She often works collaboratively with the mayors on a range of issues.

“It’s a testament to what can be achieved when we come together with empathy, innovation and a shared commitment to fostering a safer, healthier community,” says Dean.

Several city councillors also attended outdoors on Monday including from Langford (Kimberley Guiry, Lillian Szpak and Mary J Wagner); Colwood (Cynthia Day, David Grove, Kim Jordison, Misty Olsen, and Ian Ward); and Metchosin (Shelley Donaldson).

lillian szpak, langford councillor
Langford Councillor Lillian Szpak was chair of the former Langford Protective Services Committee for several years. April 29, 2024. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Development since summer 2023:

In July 2023, the Province of BC and Island Health approved West Shore RCMP’s request to provide clinicians to the MICR.

Since this time, West Shore RCMP and Island Health have been working together to plan, train and select frontline officers and registered nurses to be part of the response team.

West Shore RCMP is pleased to provide an update on the positive outcomes in the early stages of the team’s existence. Thus far, the co-responding teams have attended 270 calls with a mental health component.

Of these, only 39 calls (or 14%) have resulted in apprehensions under the Mental Health Act. For context, West Shore RCMP as a whole responded to 1,788 calls for service involving a mental health component in 2023. Of those, 337 calls (or 19%) resulted in an involuntary apprehension.

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Constable-and-nurse teams:

The MICR consists of one Corporal and two Constables who are paired with a Registered Nurse experienced in mental health and substance use care, who together respond to mental health-related calls in the West Shore. The unit action happens between 10:30 am and 10 pm daily.

The team was partially launched in February 2024 and achieved full staffing in early April of this year. Since this time, the co-responding teams are working together to meet community members where they are at.

west shore rcmp, nancy saggar, constables, nurses, mental health
West Shore RCMP Media Relations Officer Cpl Nancy Saggar with two constables and two mental health nurses who operate the West Shore RCMP Mental Health Unit’s Mobile Integrated Crisis Response Team, April 29, 2024. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

“RCMP and health-care teams are responding with a timely, supportive and empathetic approach to not only the person who is experiencing a crisis, but also to their families and caregivers. In partnership, RCMP and Island Health teams provide the right supports, at the right time, via the best possible response,” said West Shore RCMP media relations officer Cpl Nancy Saggar.

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Working together, the RCMP officers and nurses on the MCIR teams are able to assess individuals experiencing a mental health crisis within their own home. RCMP says apprehensions are only made “in the most critical circumstances”.

The MICR offers assessment, connection to services and redirection to the most appropriate level of care, which can include hospital.

Youth crisis assessed at home:

There have already been so many positive outcomes with a co-responding team, said Cpl. Lauren Ferguson who is in charge of the MICR teams at West Shore RCMP.

Reflecting on her experience thus far, Cpl Ferguson said: “I can recall several calls in the past few months where a youth in crisis was assessed in their own living room. We were able to follow up with them and their family by providing referrals to appropriate resources. Without the medical knowledge of the nurse, these calls may have resulted in an apprehension, thus creating further distress for the youth.”

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Co-response team Nurse Dan Nguyen and Cst. Benjamin Bartley [West Shore RCMP]

Officers still attend in-home calls in their standard policing uniform. A request for consideration for being in plain clothes has been submitted to federal levels of government. They do already ride in an unmarked vehicle.

Parmar admits that some people “who are in dire need of mental health supports may not want an RCMP or police officer arriving at their door”. He said that the nurses on these calls “have specific skills and abilities to support people who may be in the most vulnerable place in their life”.

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Health-focused opportunity:

The MCIR provide an essential health-focused opportunity for people experiencing mental health and/or substance use issues that have come to police attention, said Rob Schuckel, Manager, Mental Health and Substance Use, Island Health. 

This team delivers clinical mental health and substance use assessments, immediate emotional support and system navigation while also providing education and awareness to families, police and other community services regarding trauma-informed crisis intervention.

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“The MICR program has played a pivotal role in how our community approaches mental health crises, and has already made such a positive impact,” says local west shore MLA Mitzi Dean.

Political support:

“I am grateful that MICR has launched in the Westshore,” said Ravi Parmar, MLA, (Langford-Juan de Fuca). “This ground-breaking collaboration between front-line police officers and nurses promises to be a game-changer, elevating both individual well-being and community safety to new heights. It’s a bold stride towards a more comprehensive and effective approach to public safety,” said Parmar.

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