Montreal police officers are going through difficult times: after a record number of 78 resignations in 2022, no less than twenty have been added since the start of the year. This was indicated by the president of their union, Yves Francoeur, in a parliamentary committee at the National Assembly on Tuesday morning the 4th of April. It is concerning news for boroughs like Park extension where police presence is required to balance the challenges arising from its multicultural makeup.
According to what the president of the Montreal Police Brotherhood has suggested, its members are already under too much pressure and these sanctions would only add to it. He said consultations with the five psychologists in the police assistance program increased by 56% between 2017 and 2021.
Bill 14 would change the role of the Police Ethics Committee, which would become a tribunal. This goes beyond the bounds, said Mr. Francoeur about the sanctions. The President of the Fraternity rejects, for example, the imposition of sanctions such as a medical examination, an assistance program, community involvement or a social immersion internship.
These are measures that do not come under an ethical sanction, according to Mr. Francoeur, but which mistreat the workers and treat the police unfairly treat them as delinquents.
Under Bill 14, the Minister would be required to establish guidelines for police stops, including interceptions under section 636 of the Highway Safety Code, within two months of the formal entry into force of the law. In the event of non-compliance with the directives, the police could face disciplinary sanctions.
Police forces would also be required to publish an annual report listing police arrests, including roadside interceptions.
Racial profiling: a law will not be enough, according to the SPVM
In a parliamentary committee to rule on Bill 14, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) felt that a law would not be enough to put an end to racial profiling by police forces.
The Brotherhood of Police Officers, for its part, warned the Minister of Public Security, François Bonnardel, against an overly strict framework that would compromise the safety of the population.
In a judgment rendered last October, the Superior Court condemned this type of intervention, which it associated with racial profiling. The government asked the Court of Appeal to quash this judgment. In parliamentary committee, Liberal MP Jennifer Maccarone wanted to know if the bill tabled by Minister Bonnardel would help the SPVM put an end to racial profiling.
“It is not through a single law that we manage to change both practices and behaviors. » said Marc Charbonneau, deputy director of the SPVM
It is an amalgam of actions that must be taken, continued the deputy director of the SPVM, Marc Charbonneau, suggesting that he wanted more details in the bill on the directives that could be set out.
The Brotherhood defends the usefulness of random arrests
Yves Francoeur warned Minister Bonnardel about the possible guidelines.
This type of random arrest is necessary to fight against street gangs, suggested the president of the Fraternity in parliamentary committee.
The line is very thin between the work of criminal intelligence and the supervision of the practice of arrest, warned Mr. Francoeur. Supervising it too much in the context of the current violence in Montreal is harmful, mentioned the president of the union.
The police must do their job and that is what 90% of the population asks to live in safety, insisted Mr. Francoeur. Citizens want active and proactive police.
Arrests and interceptions are important to secure the population, but they cannot be done with a discriminatory motive, Mr. Bonnardel argued. One of the committee members, MP Christopher Skeete, did not see this as a disavowal. We come to prohibit random stops on discriminatory grounds, which is essentially the problem, he said.
Additional tools in case of disappearance
Furthermore, the bill aims to introduce new means to allow the police to quickly find a missing person. Officers could access crucial personal information under a judge’s order.
It could be information found on the cell phone of the missing person or the person accompanying him, said Mr. Bonnardel.
Bill 14 also proposes changes in correctional matters and fire safety risk coverage plans.