The Kelowna RCMP is one of many police forces throughout North America that has been criticized recently for its use of force, following two separate incidents caught on video this year.
On May 30, an officer repeatedly punched a suspect in the head who was being restrained by two other officers. Tyler Russell has since filed a lawsuit against the officer.
A second incident was made public earlier this month when a video was released as part of a lawsuit filed against a Kelowna RCMP member. The video shows the officer dragging nursing student Mona Wang down a hallway and stepping on her head after a wellness check at her apartment on January 20.
Video footage of both encounters has been made public.
Kelowna RCMP Superintendent Brent Mundle said these two events have altered public perception of the Kelowna detachment, but says they are not indicators of the behaviour of officers in that city.
"I certainly have confidence in our department here," Mundle told Daybreak South host Chris Walker.
"I'm hoping that the recent videos certainly aren't creating that lack of confidence within our organization, that people are afraid to to call us for service."
When it comes to holding the RCMP accountable for their actions, the public can report concerns and complaints directly to the local detachment. Concerns can also be voiced through the Civil Review and Complaints Commission, also known as the CRCC.
The Independent Investigations Office, or IIO, is called when use of force by police causes serious injury or death.
The RCMP also has an internal code of conduct, and when it's believed someone has violated that code, there is an investigation.
"I think when you talk about policing in general, we probably have more accountability and processes built into place, more so than any other professions that I'm aware of," Mundle said.
Mental health related calls
Mundle said the Kelowna detachment receives over 60,000 calls for service per year, and has other contacts with the community outside of that.
In 2019, 3,900 calls were associated with mental health.
A new program, called the police and crisis team, or PACT, was created in conjunction with Interior Health in 2017 to address mental health. PACT pairs an officer with a mental health nurse to respond to mental health calls.
The RCMP has advocated for a second team to be funded, and has been working with the City of Kelowna and Interior Health to try to increase capacity.
"We're not always the best instrument to deal with those situations just due to the complex needs of some of the people that we attend to," Mundle said. "That's why we pursue partnerships with other agencies to assist us in these calls for service."
Part of ongoing calls to defund the police includes reallocating resources, similar to programs like PACT, which is something Mundle supports.
"When you look at defunding the police, you have to have a clear understanding of what that means," he said. "I'm certainly not an advocate of disbanding police services … but I certainly support the component where it's necessary to build capacity within our social service agencies and other groups to deal with these types of concerns that aren't necessarily police related in nature."