Some RCMP divisions pair a Mountie with a nurse — but the arrangement isn’t available everywhere
The call came in close to the end of RCMP Const. Lorri Kokkola’s shift on a cold, cloudy day in Red Deer, Alta.
“He has some delusions right now that are very real. They’ve escalated,” said the woman on the other end.
“His comment was, ‘Somebody’s gotta f—ing die before anyone believes me. So I have to kill myself.'”
Kokkola headed to the man’s apartment, but she wasn’t alone. Riding shotgun was John Obelienius, a psychiatric nurse with more than a decade of experience.
She and Obelienius make up what’s known as a PACT — a police and crisis team. Kokkola entered the man’s apartment first but Obelienius ended up doing most of the talking.
Inside, they found a young man deep in the coils of paranoia, rattling off conspiracy theories. His legs shook nervously as he lay back on his living room couch.
“So last night, you made a decision to hurt somebody,” said Obelienius.
“I did,” the man responded.
The young man told Obelienius that he hadn’t been sleeping or eating, that he knew he was slipping.
“Just be honest with the suicide stuff, too, right?” Obelienius told him. “If you start feeling like you’re losing grip, you can call.”
They talked for more than 10 minutes. Obelienius and Kokkola left with a warning — making threats can get you into trouble — and a promise to check in after a few days.
And that was it. No trip to a crammed hospital ER or a police cell. Just a quiet chat and a conflict avoided.
“Police before, because they didn’t have the mental health training or access to a professional beside them, nine out of every 10 police calls would get apprehended and brought to hospital,” said Obelienius.
“Now I think we’re down to probably one out of every 10, right? That clinical expertise is able to help us avoid apprehension.
UCP asks Albertans to consider an Alberta Pension Plan
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Police arrest two more people following killing of eight-year-old girl in Alberta
An Edmonton Police Service logo is shown at a press conference in Edmonton, Oct. 2, 2017. Police in Edmonton have charged two more people following the killing of an eight-year-old girl whose remains were found on a First Nation south of the provincial capital in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Police in Edmonton have charged two more people following the killing of an eight-year-old girl whose remains were found on a First Nation south of the provincial capital.
Officers responded on April 24 to a welfare call about the girl at an Edmonton home but were unable to locate her.
Her remains were discovered five days later on the Samson Cree Nation in Maskwacis.
Shayden Lightning, who is 21, and Raighne Stoney, who is 36, have been charged with being an accessory to murder and causing an indignity to a body.
Three others were initially charged in the case.
Police are not releasing the names of two of the accused in order to protect the identities of other children related to the victim, whose identity is under a publication ban.
A 27-year-old woman faces a charge of first-degree murder and a 25-year-old man faces charges of being an accessory to murder and causing an indignity to a body.
Edward Nievera, 67, was charged with being an accessory to murder and causing an indignity to a body.
Edmonton police Staff Sgt. Colin Leathem said in a release Friday that the recent arrests will be the last in the case and that the investigation has concluded.
“We want to thank the RCMP in Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin for their assistance with this investigation,” he said. “Needless to say, this was an exceptionally distressing investigation to work on, and they went above and beyond in helping to facilitate these final arrests and bring this file to conclusion.
“While nothing can change the horror of what occurred, we hope (the arrests) can provide some measure of justice to those who knew and loved this little girl.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2023.
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