Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division’s new CEO presented yesterday to the BC Legislature’s Special Committee to Review the Police Complaint Process. Jonny Morris used his submission to highlight the recently released BC Coroners Service Death Review Panel Report “Opportunities for Different Outcomes” which looked at deaths among people with recent police encounters. The report found that between 2013-2017, there were 127 deaths among persons during or within 24 hours following contact with police. Over 2/3 of these deaths involved a mental health or addiction issue, with the report calling on the provincial government to incorporate policing into the soon to be released mental health and addictions strategy.
“The Death Review Panel Report confirms what people have told us repeatedly — that policing plays a significant role in the mental health and addictions system. We encourage the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to think about the role of policing in mental health and to lead us to a system where police don’t have to be the de facto system of care,” said Morris.
Given the rate of encounters between police and people living with a mental illness or addiction, Morris shared three recommendations to support the Special Committee’s deliberations in reviewing the Police Complaint Process:
- Allow the Police Complaints Commissioner to conduct systemic investigations, starting with a focus on contact between people with mental illness and police;
- Find ways to better support people living with mental illness or addiction to navigate the police complaints process
- Expand training for the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner focused on police encounters with people living with mental illness and addiction.
Jonny Morris was hired as CEO of CMHA BC Division starting May 13. More information on his background is available here.
Contact: Maya Russell, CMHA Communications 604-351-2653