HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drunks Need Care, Not Jail, Police Say
Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jul 2004
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2004 Calgary Herald
Author: Emma Poole


People who get drunk in public should be offered treatment, not thrown in 
jail to sober up, Calgary police say.

Sandy Durrant, chairman of the Calgary Police Commission, and Chief Jack 
Beaton floated the idea of putting the care of drunks in the hands of 
agencies other than police to the city's community and protective services 
committee on Wednesday.

Although it's the job of police to arrest and hold addicts, they don't have 
the resources or the mandate to get them help.

"Dealing with inebriates is an issue of health, it's not necessarily a 
policing issue," said Durrant.

The Calgary Drop-In Centre has long proposed taking responsibility for the 
drunk tank and offering treatment for those willing to take it.

The police service has been in discussion with the Calgary centre to 
transfer some of that responsibility for several years.

Executive director Dermot Baldwin said building plans for a new 
$4.5-million "sobering centre" are complete, although land has yet to be 

Permission from the police commission to go ahead with the project has not 
been granted.

Baldwin said a three-storey building housing the centre would be within 
several blocks of the Drop-In Centre and should have the ability to house 
150 people a night.

Tentatively called The Bridge, the facility would be the first of its kind 
in Canada, said Baldwin.

He added, it would include addiction treatment, job training and a medical 

Baldwin's plans, however, appear to be overly ambitious, said Sandy 
Durrant, chairman of the Calgary police commission.

The two groups put together a joint proposal to the commission nearly two 
years ago, but were asked to find another partner who would take 
responsibility for addiction rehabilitation, said Durrant.

"We decided that the proposal that came to us needed considerably more 
work," she said.

Durrant said a group similar to the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse 
Commission would be a welcome addition.

Police arrest more than 3,000 people a year for public intoxication.

They are brought to the downtown arrest processing unit, where they spend 
the night in the drunk tank.

At 7:30 a.m., they're cut loose, but many return.

The deaths of two drunk-tank prisoners prompted authorities to look for 
different ways of running the facility. Medical problems should be 
considered and detainees should be treated as patients.

Randhir Singh Johal, 58, died after being arrested for public drunkenness 
in August 1999.

A fatality inquiry found Johal's death went unnoticed for five hours.

Willard Taypayosatum, 36, had been in the drunk tank more than 30 times in 
the months leading up to his death.

He suffered a heart attack in his cell and later died.

"Police are not in the business of rehabilitation and social work," said 
Baldwin. "(They) need more of a treatment model, not incarceration."
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