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Mental health and drug addiction included in Vancouver police's top priorities

Improving access to mental health and drug addiction treatments are some of VPD’s top priorities

Vancouver police chief, Adam Palmer, says the fentanyl crisis can't be solved without addressing both the demand and supply side of the drug trade.

Metro File

Vancouver police chief, Adam Palmer, says the fentanyl crisis can't be solved without addressing both the demand and supply side of the drug trade.

The Vancouver Police Department released its five-year plan Tuesday, highlighting strategies that address the ongoing fentanyl crisis as well as the mental health of its officers and the city’s residents.

The 2017-2021 plan also includes regular policing priorities like reducing property and violent crime. 

Police chief Adam Palmer emphasized the fentanyl crisis will continue unless both sides of the problem are addressed – the supply and demand for illicit drugs. While officers will continue to go after high-level drug traffickers, deadly substances like fentanyl will continue to kill unless people receive addiction treatment, he explained.

“You’ll never win any type of ‘war on drugs.’ The supply will keep coming in and coming in,” he said.

“Not only do we have to work as police officers on the supply side of the equation, we also have to work on the demand side.”

That’s why the VPD is dedicated to raising awareness about treatment options for people addicted to drugs, he said.

The department is also partnering with St. Paul’s Hospital with a new mental health hub, Palmer noted. Maintaining the mental wellness of its officers is also a priority for VPD, he said.

The force is currently undergoing a full review of staffing levels to ensure it has appropriate resources to keep the public safe. The review could lead to a request for more officers and civilian staff, Palmer confirmed.

The VPD’s 2016-2021 Strategic Plan was informed by public consultation, including responses from 2900 people online, and internal reviews, including 140 sessions with officers and civilian staff.  

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