RCMP take a man into custody at Sunrise Pharmacy on Main Street Friday morning. The pharmacy owner and RCMP differ on the use of the panic button to notify police of the incident. Mark Brett/Western News

Police call B.C. pharmacy’s use of panic button ‘unnecessary’

Pharmacist should have used 911 or non-emergency numbers when pharmacist felt they needed to push.

When should a panic alarm be used to notify police?

Pharmacist Joelle Mbamy and RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager have differing opinions on the matter, following an incident Friday morning when a man allegedly tried to fill forged prescriptions at Sunrise Pharmacy.

Mbamy, the pharmacist and owner, and her daughter Donna Mbamy-Conci, were working that morning when they say a man came in on two different occasions with prescriptions for pain medication.

Mbamy, after verifying with the doctor whose prescriptions were being used that he had not written them and concerned for her safety, pushed the panic button to alert police.

Related:UPDATE: Forged prescriptions prompt Penticton RCMP response

The man was taken into custody a short time later but what upset Mbamy and her daughter were comments from one of the police officers who she claimed told her the situation did not constitute an emergency and if they did something similar again there may be consequences.

“They’re (RCMP) telling us ‘forged prescription that’s nothing, why would you even bother pushing the panic button, we are rushing to come here,’ of course you should rush to come here and they are telling us ‘if you push again then (you) are at risk we won’t come or you’ll be charged with mischief,’” said Mbamy-Conci. “The police are angry and say we shouldn’t be pushing the panic button in a state of alarm because they don’t consider this an emergency where nation-wide when something like this happens it is the most serious emergency in a pharmacy.

“This is narcotics, you shouldn’t need to prove it (emergency) by somebody getting shot.”

Added Mbamy: “And if something should happen to me, what would the police do? The most they would do would be to put some red tape around here if I’m dead.”

However De Jager feels it would have been more appropriate for one of the women to have gone in the back and call the non-emergency or 911 instead of pushing the panic button.

“What happens when someone pushes a panic alarm at a bank or business or anybody else is every available police car comes code three, what we call lights and sirens,” said De Jager. “Lights and sirens under any circumstance puts the member and the public in jeopardy and we accept that risk to ensure that we get somewhere quickly.

“We have quite an aggressive response to that as well we should because if somebody is in grave danger only to attend there and find that it was actually allegedly only a stolen prescription pad.”

He added: “So that is what I would suggest is why the member would have said that to her, it’s basically a false alarm.”

According to De Jager not confronting the man and simply letting him go and allowing police to investigate afterwards with video and description would avoid any potential conflict.

“So again 911 would have been totally appropriate if she felt that way but a panic alarm is one level up from 911 and it’s a very deliberate response,” he said. “Essentially it’s a theft, I recognize that he’s trying to get drugs and medication which is fully under the control of the pharmacist but at the end of the day it’s a stolen prescription pad.

“To put that in perspective if the members are on the other side of town they’d be coming with lights and sirens as fast as they possibly could and the potential is always elevated. Even though people 99 per cent of the time, they see lights and sirens coming they pull over and but it’s that one per cent that’s always on the mind of that member when they’re going through an intersection.”

At this stage police say charges have not been forwarded on the matter.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


 MarkBrett
Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Smoke-free summer a boon for West Kootenay tourism

Tourism centres seeing numbers up

Elk River reclaims property as its own

Laws make it harder to protect private land than ever before says farmer, local government

Black Press Kootenay Career Fair underway in Cranbrook

Today, Thursday, August 22, around 40 employers will be waiting to meet potential new employees

Cannings to pedal through South Okanagan — West Kootenay riding

MP leaves from Nakusp on Aug. 23 and ends in Kaleden on Aug. 29.

UPDATED: MV Balfour ferry returns to service

The 65-year-old ferry had been out of action for a month

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

NDP bring Green New Deal to the Kootenays

MPs Wayne Stetski and Peter Julian held climate change talks in Nelson, Cranbrook and Revelstoke

B.C. sockeye returns drop as official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’

Federal government says officials are seeing the same thing off Alaska and Washington state

Expanded support to help B.C. youth from care attend university still falling short

Inadequate support, limited awareness and eligibility restrictions some of the existing challenges

B.C. music teacher accused of sexual misconduct involving girls

Police believe other victims could be out there after the arrest of Lamar Victor Alviar

B.C. family stranded in Croatia desperate to come home

Funds being raised to bring back mom and two children

Most Read