Coun. Kyle Sampson wants to expand the Car 60 program, which pairs a mental health professional with an RCMP officer on some police calls.
Sampson has given a notice of motion to fellow councillors that he would like council to direct “administration to explore the opportunity of growth and expansion of the Prince George RCMP Car 60 Program by engaging with the program’s partners, the RCMP and the Northern Health Authority in an effort to meet council’s strategic priorities of improving the safety and security, health, and quality of life of residents in the City of Prince George.”
The motion comes in the wake of unrests and protests across the country expressing concern about police tactics in dealing with people who have mental health issues, among other things. Prince George has, perhaps, one of the anomalies in that it instituted the Car 60 program years ago to help deal with such issues. It isn’t the only jurisdiction to do so. The Car 60 program was hailed as one of the solutions to downtown issues last fall when council struck a special committee to look for solutions to the social issues downtown.
Sampson was council to directs administration to bring back a report to council outlining the
recommendations and/or budget implications associated with the expansion of the program and that council directs “the Intergovernmental Resolutions Committee to bring back appropriate correspondence/resolutions to Council that requests further aid from the provincial and federal levels of government towards supplying additional mental health support services that are supplemental to policing and public safety in our community.”
The City of Prince George faces similar challenges with respect to mental health and addiction issues that many other municipalities face across Canada, Sampson said in his notice of motion. “Statistics show that there has been an increase of well over 100 per cent in calls associated with mental health over the past five years in Prince George,” he said. The implementation of Car 60 in 2015 has provided the RCMP with a much more versatile toolkit to address the mental health needs of our citizen and community; however, more can be done.”
Hours of operation for the Car 60 program are limited by resources, including further access to mental health professionals from Northern Health. The expansion of the program would ideally see additional staffing resources of mental health professionals partnered with PG RCMP members to provide greater coverage of service, he said.
“It is a strategic priority of council to enhance the quality of life for residents, which includes supporting programs that provide greater resources for varying types of public safety concerns, including mental health, addiction, and other social issues. It would be in the best interest of all residents that council directs administration to further develop the partnership between the City of Prince George, the RCMP, and Northern Health to expand on the already successful Car 60 Program.”
Council will discuss Sampson’s notice of motion at its July 13 regular meeting.