RCMP targets public intoxication

Partnership between RCMP and Mental Health and Addictions Services aims to get treatment for high-risk offenders.

PORT HARDY—Local RCMP members spoke to the Port Hardy Rotarians last week on the detachment’s strategy to combat public intoxication in the town.

Staff Sergeant Gord Brownridge joined Constable Rob Brennan who told the group that “It’s been made very clear… that this is a priority, not just for us, but for the community and the mayor’s office.”

The officers told Rotarians about an initiative, in partnership with B.C. Mental Health and Addiction Services, to aid at-risk people in getting help with their alcoholism.

The detachment identified several high-risk individuals and served them with letters informing them of treatment options and inviting them to take part in a recovery program.

The officers also explained they had created a ‘Crown package’ which includes  a copy of the letter and other information which can be used in the event of a court appearance.

The members stressed that the enforcement route is something of a last resort, with the “first priority (being) to get them the help they need.”

Rotarians heard that the initiative was started in April with the local detachment marking a “notable improvement” since the program’s inception but recognizing the “need for continuous ongoing efforts.”

The opportunity for treatment is not limited to those that the detachment have contacted. Anyone who self-identifies as at-risk can also access the treatments offered.

Should a business owner or member of the public call in in a complaint, the RCMP encourages the complainant to make a statement.

Without a statement, the complaint can be impossible to prove, leading to a revolving-door situation where the suspect is held until sober, then released.

A statement on file can lead to a court appearance and a subsequent undertaking against the suspect.

The members also appealed to business owners to take care of the land surrounding their properties, noting that discarded pallets and the like can act as an invitation to drinkers.

S/Sgt. Brownridge noted the role played by BCMHAS in the process saying, “Mental Health has been a great partner for us.”