Recommendations made regarding police interventions and mental health services08 October 2021
MIRAMICHI (GNB) – Recommendations related to police interventions and mental health services were made following the coroner’s inquest into the death of Rodney Levi.
The inquest was held Sept. 28 to Oct. 8. Levi, of Metepenagiag First Nation, died on June 12, 2020, following an RCMP intervention that took place at a residence in Sunny Corner.
An inquest is a formal court proceeding that allows public presentation of all evidence relating to a death. It does not make any finding of legal responsibility nor does it assign blame. However, recommendations can be made aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.
Coroners and juries can classify a death as a homicide, suicide, accident, natural causes or cause undetermined. The inquest found Levi’s death was a homicide.
It’s important to understand the classification of “homicide” in a Coroner’s inquest is defined as any case of a person dying by the actions of another. It does not imply culpability, which is not within the mandate of the coroner or the jury.
The five-member jury heard from 27 witnesses during the inquest and made the following recommendations:
Recommendations for Aboriginal Policing
- The Aboriginal Band Constable Program should be re-instated.
- Until the re-instatement of the Aboriginal Band Constable Program, the RCMP should make use of a designated Aboriginal community liaison person.
Recommendations for Mental Health Services
- Counselling services should be provided for witnesses, victims and family members of a traumatic event in a timely manner.
- First Nations communities should be provided with increased mental health services and facilities.
- Detox facilities should be readily available in First Nation communities.
- In situations involving mental wellness checks on First Nations, the RCMP should not be the first responder, but be on standby for mobile crisis units or an Aboriginal liaison for the community.
- Mobile crisis units should be dispatched in a similar fashion to other emergency services (i.e.: RCMP and fire department).
- Mobile crisis units should be a 24-hour service.
- For mental wellness checks, the mobile crisis unit should be dispatched along with other emergency services.
- Information sessions on mental health and addictions should be offered to First Nations communities regularly.
Recommendations for RCMP
- Implement mandatory First Nation cultural sensitivity and awareness training at the depot (RCMP Academy) level.
- Provide dedicated, uniformed liaison officers to each detachment that has a First Nation community in its jurisdiction.
- Provide mandatory scenario-based suicide intervention training to cadets.
- Expedite the deployment of body cameras to all officers nationwide.
- Implement mandatory conducted energy weapon (CEW) training at depot.
- Increase time in field training from six to twelve months.
- Adopt training recommendations submitted by use-of-force expert witness, Sgt. Kelly Keith.
The chief coroner will forward these recommendations to the appropriate agency for consideration and response. The responses will be included in the chief coroner’s annual report for 2021.08-10-21