The Nanaimo RCMP detachment now has a mental health liaison officer.
Const. Joshua Waltman, who has 12 years police service, has been selected as the mental health liaison officer for the detachment.
Waltman, according to a Nanaimo RCMP press release, will be responsible for attending to mental health calls and facilitating a collaborative, consistent and co-ordinated approach to address the needs of people with mental illness in Nanaimo.
“Const. Waltman brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience from his previous post in Surrey, and will be of great assistance to our front-line officers,” Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said in the release.
In Surrey, Waltman worked the beat with several officers assigned to the Surrey Outreach Team that patrolled the Whalley strip, home to many marginalized people. Their goal was not to arrest, but to engage with people experiencing homelessness, many of whom had mental health and addiction issues. Waltman received advanced training in core addiction practices that helped him with getting to know the names and stories of the people he worked with and assist them with getting off the strip and into housing, detox or recovery.
In Nanaimo, Waltman will work with a variety of municipal, provincial and federal partners and on most days he will work in regular street clothes.
“Our front-line officers are over-tasked. I hope to alleviate some of the pressures they face as mental health calls can be challenging and often time-consuming,” Waltman said in the release. “I also hope to connect with many of our high-risk individuals and, in doing so, provide continuity and familiarity for them. Developing these kinds of relationships was the recipe for our success in Surrey. I hope to see similar successes here.”
O’Brien said Waltman had already started his duties.