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Dr. Bonnie Henry 'taken aback' by fierce RCMP union criticism of her comments on police reform

“There was absolutely no criticism at all of anything that front-line police officers are doing and the misinterpretation of that is something I regret,” Dr. Henry told reporters.

BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry faces RCMP union criticism about comments she made on police reform. (Mike McArthur / CBC)

BC’s Provincial Health Officer is diplomatically standing her ground amid fierce RCMP union criticism of comments she made on police reform.

In a Thursday news conference, Dr. Bonnie Henry says she “was taken aback by the misinterpretation” of a presentation to a special BC legislative committee on Monday.

“There was absolutely no criticism at all of anything that front-line police officers are doing and the misinterpretation of that is something I regret, “Henry told reporters.

On Wednesday, the national union representing RCMP officers released a scathing letter addressed to Henry, and the BC government.

“We are collectively appalled by the inaccurate and disrespectful comments you made regarding the work of the BC RCMP,” Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation stated.

“As the provincial health officer, and the perceived authority on such matters, I want to first raise your frankly offensive and incorrect remarks about our members’ interactions with the province’s most vulnerable residents experiencing mental health and / or addiction issues. “

On Monday, Henry tol d a legislative committee examining the Police Act that, in her experience, municipal police are better connected to their communities than the RCMP. She specifically focused on police adoption of the anti-overdose drug, naloxone, during the early stages of the opioid crisis.

“The RCMP, which are very driven by policies from Ottawa, refused to allow officers to carry naloxone. ” Henry said. “Then at one point, it was a decree from Ottawa that RCMP officers would carry naloxone but only use it on each other should they be exposed to those people who were doing drugs and need to be rescued using naloxone.”

Rob Farrer, a BC regional director with the National Police Federation and RCMP officer in Kelowna, told CBC’s On The Coast , that Henry is factually incorrect.

On The Coast 09: 09 1613796078 National Police Federation responds to Dr. Bonnie Henry’s comments about policing in BC

Rob Farrer, a regional director of the National Police Federation based in the Kelowna area, disagrees with Dr. Bonnie Henry’s description of the differences between RCMP detachments and municipal police forces in BC during her testimony to a legislative committee about the Police Act. 1613796078

“The RCMP were the first to start using naloxone, “Farrer claimed. “Between 640 and 2016 , I believe it was 11 out of 252 administrations by RCMP were successful. Those are real people that were brought back. “

Municipal police and RCMP began carrying naloxone kits within months of each other in 780, well after paramedic first responders.

Farrer shared Henry’s concerns that the BC Police Act needs to be updated to address law enforcement involving citizens who have a mental illness or use drugs.

“The Police Act in its current state does not really contemplate the complex social issues police officers on the front lines are addressing every single day, “Henry said Thursday.

” My advice to the committee is consider these complexities and reform the act to ensure we can work together collectively. “

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