As mental health calls continue to climb in the Kelowna area, the regional police detachment wants to continue making changes to accommodate those calls.
Earlier this week, Kelowna RCMP commander Supt. Kara Triance said changing the way they respond to people in distress is still a top priority for the detachment, prompted in part by the death of a local man earlier this year.
Thomas Chadwick was killed on May 30, and Lorence Earl Williams was charged in relation to the death. Triance explained Williams struggles with mental health issues. The provincial police watchdog revealed that police had been called twice to check on Williams prior to the May 30 homicide.
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) stated that the Kelowna RCMP’s Police and Crisis Team (PACT), which is made up of trained officers and psychiatric nurses, were called to speak with Williams regarding his wellness.
The next day (May 30) and after the two wellness checks, Thomas Chadwick, a man who lives in the same house as Williams was found dead.
Triance said on Monday (Sept. 13) that this case reminded her of changes that need to be made in the detachment.
“(This incident is) re-emphasizing the work that we are doing with our Police and Crisis Team,” she said.
“We will continue to advocate for resources in this area as we move forward and we see more mental health calls climbing in our community and remaining consistent.
“Our police officers are often the first line of response to mental health calls and we want to make sure that those files are resourced appropriately with health resources.”
Along with advocating for better resources for the PACT, Triance added that through a special committee for police reform, the Kelowna RCMP has also been advocating to amend the Mental Health Act.
“We believe that strong recommendations and changes from this special committee will have compelling changes going forward,” she said.
As far as the investigation into Chadwick’s death, Triance confirmed that Williams remains in custody and that the file remains active.
“Our teams are currently focused on disclosure of that homicide. This is a labour-intensive process,” she said.
“There’s a lot of investigative steps to bring a file of this level of complexity to a successful conclusion.”