2021 was a challenging year for policing in general, and the same held true for the Pembina Valley’s Regional Crisis Negotiation Unit (RCNU). The unit is made up of members from each of the Morden, Winkler and Altona police services.

“We couldn't send a couple of the people that we added to our unit for their certification training in Ottawa just because of the pandemic and the Canadian Police College shutting down,” explained Unit Coordinator Jason Penner.

“We had to become resourceful in terms of keeping our training current and doing a lot of training via Zoom. And we did a lot of in-house training instruction of the newer people," he added. "We're still hopeful to be able to get them off to that certification course. They are a functioning part of our unit as it is right now, but it's nice to have the official certification from Ottawa.”

According to its 2021 annual report, the RCNU was deployed twice throughout the year. The first instance involved a suicidal man at a job site in Winkler. The second call was to a Winkler residence where a man had barricaded himself with a baby. Both situations concluded prior to the full unit arriving and making contact. To date in 2022, the unit has been deployed twice, dealing with the same person on both occasions.

Since the unit was not deployed often in the past year, Penner said the team had to employ a creative approach to training, a crucial element for their skill set.

As well, the RCNU is partnering with Southern Regional Health Authority and Eden Health Centre to add a mental health component to its operation.