'The wrong tool for the job': Victoria police have a fraught history with mental health calls. What's the alternative?
A new report calls for changes to the way police respond to mental health emergencies
By Brishti Basu and Alec Lazenby
May 3, 2022
Photos and videos taken by Clark (and shared with Capital Daily) show eight uniformed officers standing on the street-facing walk up outside the room, calling for the lone, suicidal man to answer them.
Police officers have shown up two times in the past three years at Daniel Sands’s doorstep. Both times, it was because Sands was either contemplating or had attempted suicide.
The first incident took place in 2018, when Sands was living in a room at The Scotsman motel. The Two-Spirit 45-year-old, who is Cree from Treaty 8 territory, was struggling with depression. They were alone and having suicidal thoughts—to the point where they’d planned out exactly how to take their life—and called 911 after recognizing they needed help.
“I was just so deflated and low, I wasn't even aware of really what else was going on,” Sands said. Before they knew it, half a dozen uniformed police officers were outside their door. “It was super intimidating,” they recall. At that point, Sands was still using drugs (they’ve now been sober for three years) and had illicit drugs in their wheelchair bag. In their already vulnerable state, the sight of police instantly sparked more fear: “I just assumed they’re going to arrest me,” Sands said.
Out of the six or so officers at the scene, only two entered the room. One—the sole female officer of the group—spoke to Sands and asked them to explain what had happened, while the other searched for weapons (there were none). Then, Sands was strapped to a straight-backed chair and rolled down the stairs to the ambulance that took them to the psychiatric ward at Royal Jubilee Hospital.
“I felt like the Silence of the Lambs guy when they strapped me into this dolly thing, and then [they] rolled me down the stairs,” Sands said. “I had my eyes closed. I was super embarrassed to be taken away by the police, super embarrassed that my neighbours might have seen the police come and get me.”