Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran struggled while watching video of a Kelowna RCMP officer dragging a handcuffed university student down a hallway during a mental health wellness check.
“Disappointment, anger, shock,” Basran told Global News after watching the video on an iPad outside city hall on Wednesday, describing his reaction.
“What has taken place in this video is absolutely unacceptable,” Basran said after watching the entire video.
The mayor also said the video showing Mona Wang’s treatment at the hands of Kelowna RCMP demonstrates that how mental health wellness checks are performed needs to change.
“Mental health is clearly still stigmatized by some in our community,” said Basran, “but here is also need to deal with mental health calls at a far greater level and (involve) people with expertise in mental health and addiction.”
Adding her voice to Basran’s call was Shelagh Tuner, executive director at the Kelowna and District Canadian Mental Health Association, who said “that is not the right response at all.”
In her 30 years with Canadian Mental Health Association, Turner says she’s garnered plenty of expertise in dealing with people who are suffering from a mental health crisis and addictions.
“When RCMP are called to something like that, they don’t know what the are responding to,” Turner told Global News.
That being said, though, Turner believes police need more training when it comes to de-escalating situations like the one involving Mona Wang.
“If they had in their toolbelt more tools, one of them being empathy and understanding for people with mental illness and substance use and how to respond with respect, that would go a long way,” Turner said.
Turner said as a society, we can and need to do better for people suffering from a mental health crisis.
“When leadership comes together and makes a full commitment to addressing some of these issues, I think the solutions will be come apparent,” Turner said.
Meanwhile, Basran said he’s asked Kelowna RCMP to investigate the incident quickly and transparently.
“And make sure that if wrongdoing is found, it be dealt with accordingly,” Basran said.