Demand for mental health services often outweighs available RCMP services

RCMP identify difference between administration and complaint line

In the last week Rimbey RCMP responded to 45 calls for service. These calls include, but are not limited to, seven stolen, suspicious, or abandoned vehicle or person files; four reports of fraud; one mischief complaint; and one report of break and enter.

They fought the law and the law won – last week, Rimbey RCMP were notified by police in B.C. that a well-known Rimbey offender was arrested on outstanding warrants in their area and requested that Alberta warrants be extended. The offer was granted and the individual will remain in custody in B.C. until they are able to transport him back to Alberta. Criminals will often travel, making investigations challenging. However, thanks to the long arm of the law, RCMP will often catch up.

In the last few weeks, Rimbey RCMP have noted a significant number of Mental Health Act calls.

The Mental Health Act of Alberta, introduced in 1990, was enacted to provide safeguards and supports for mentally ill individuals. In addition, the Mental Health Act provides officers with the authority to apprehend and seek out medical help for those with mental illness, namely those cases where there is a concern that the individual may attempt to harm themselves or others.

Last week, Rimbey RCMP were called to an incident where a mental health worker was working with a patient they believed to be suicidal. Police were called to assess the situation and it was ultimately determined that there was no concern for safety, after all, and concerns about the individual were unsubstantiated. The officers determined that the individual was simply venting frustrations and had no intention of harming themselves or anyone else.

Incidents like this serve as a reminder that even though officers are not mental health professionals, they are often expected to be. RCMP are becoming a safety net for people who should be cared for in the health system rather than the legal system. Calls like these eat up a significant amount of time that could be spent taking other calls, since Mental Health Act incidents take an above average amount of time in comparison.

This is an issue that is evident Canada-wide, not just in Rimbey. The demand for mental health service simply outpaces available resources. Due to the lack of resources, RCMP and other police services around the country end up filling that service gap.

On a different note, the Rimbey RCMP would like to clear up some apparent confusion regarding the purpose of the complaint line versus the administration line.

If you are looking for updates on an existing file or report with the Rimbey RCMP and there is no immediate threat of violence or escalation, call the administration line at 403-843-2224. Also use the administration line if you are looking to provide additional details to a file, or looking to speak with a specific member investigating an existing file.

The complaint line, on the other hand, is called when you require police attendance or are reporting a new occurrence. For example, if you see a driver you suspect to be impaired, call the complaint line at 403-843-2223. The complaint line is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by the RMCP’s Southern Alberta Operational Communication Center.

If an occurrence is in progress and there is an immediate threat of violence or a potential loss of life, then 9-1-1 should be called, asking for the appropriate emergency services.

If you have information regarding these or any other crimes, please call the local Rimbey RCMP Detachment or contact Crime Stoppers:

PHONE 1-800-222-8477

#8477 on Telus Mobility

*8477 on Rogers AT&T

Crime Stoppers is a community program that works! Do your part and call now.

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