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Program that pairs Surrey RCMP with mental health services faces uncertain future

Last Updated Jul 17, 2021 at 2:24 pm PDT

(Courtesy Surrey RCMP)
Summary

If you call 9-1-1 in Surrey for a mental health reason, you may see a Mountie and a nurse

The partnership is part of a special unit called 'Car 67,' but the future of it is still unclear

There's no guarantee Car 67 will continue when Surrey RCMP to Surrey Police transition is made

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — Nurses have been joining Mounties for some mental health calls in Surrey due to a partnership that is part of a special unit called ‘Car 67.’ However, the future of the program is still unclear.

From 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. throughout the week, a psychiatric nurse and officer can respond to calls involving emotional and mental health issues. The Car 67 team will drive to the scene from an unmarked police vehicle to enhance privacy.

Brian Edwards, the officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP, tells NEWS 1130 he wants the service to expand, but that would mean Fraser Health needs to provide nurses.

“While we have the resources on our end — I think [expanding the program] would require more assistance from Fraser Valley Health. But we recognize too, that those resources are not easy to come by,” he says.

Fraser Health says it has no plans to increase the program’s hours.

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Outside of the program’s hours, if someone calls for a mental health or emotional crisis, regular RCMP members will attend the call and refer the file to Car 67 to follow up the next time they are on duty.

However, Edwards says, “I think that in the future, we’re going to see more of this.”

“We wanted to make it clear to the public that we are providing these services that they do take a significant amount of time for response, and that to ensure that our clients and those in the community, and not just the individual clients, but their families can rest assured that we do take this matter extremely serious to try to meet the highest level of standards in providing care.”

Special unit may not continue amid new municipal police force

Ian MacDonald with the Surrey Police Service says when the Surrey Police take over, he hopes Car 67 continues to respond to people in crisis.

However, he can’t confirm that will happen but community consultations are underway.

“Partnering those two individuals together in the same car, and allowing them to get both individual knowledge… I think it’s a winning formula,” he says.

Car 67 has attended more than 300 calls for service so far this year.

Fraser Health also says there are no plans to bring the program to other cities like Burnaby or Abbotsford.

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