BRITISH COLUMBIA

Vancouver Police Arrest Video Highlights Larger Mental Health Issue

12/23/2014 07:01 EST | Updated 12/23/2014 07:59 EST

A video has emerged online showing the dramatic Vancouver arrest of a man who made threats against police.

But what the clip actually highlights is a city still trying to keep its head above an ongoing mental health crisis.

The video, which was posted to YouTube on Monday, shows a man being arrested at Pacific Centre mall in downtown Vancouver on Sunday afternoon.

The man had phoned police and claimed he wanted to kill officers, the Vancouver police spokesman Const. Brian Montague told The Huffington Post B.C. in an interview. Police were able to trace the call to a pay phone at the mall and locate the man, whose arrest is seen in the online clip.

The man was arrested under Section 28 of the Mental Health Act, which states that police can apprehend someone who is "suffering from a deteriorating mental health issue and is a danger to themselves or others," Montague said.

In regards to the specific threats, officers must determine if the suspect is not only capable of carrying them out but also has the intention to do so.

Once the man was in police custody, however, it became clear that what he actually wanted was medical attention.

"He was basically looking for medical help and he knew if he picked up the phone and threatened the police, we would come and take him to a medical facility if that's what he wanted," said Montague. No criminal charges are being pursued.

Because of this, little can be revealed about the suspect, but Montague said he is known to police "from a mental health aspect."

Officers brought the man to a hospital where he saw a psychiatrist, said Montague. He was released Tuesday morning, a decision made by the doctors.

The incident sheds light on the city's mental health crisis, which has largely focused on the lack of resources and help for those suffering.

Last week, B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake announced that Coquitlam's Riverview Hospital, once home for Vancouver's mentally ill, will house a new program for those with mental health and substance abuse issues.

Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 13, Montague said police apprehended 2,874 people under the Mental Health Act's Section 28 — in Vancouver alone.

"We've been pretty vocal in the last year or so about the crisis we're having, especially here in Vancouver, with regards to mental health," he said. "Our officers have to deal with individuals who are in crisis. Here's a classic example of someone who is wanting medical help and feels the best way to get it is by calling 911 and threatening police."

With files from The Canadian Press

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