Montreal, October 25, 2021 – Montreal mayoral candidate and leader of Ensemble Montréal, Denis Coderre, and his team presented today a comprehensive plan addressing public vigilance and security. The Coderre-Gelly administration’s strategy will focus on: increasing early interventions, modernizing the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), preventing violence in all neighbourhoods and curbing the circulation of firearms, to bring back a safe and secure city for all Montrealers.
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“The last two years have been very difficult from a security perspective in Montreal. Shootings are on a steep rise, as are attempted murders and gun-related crimes. To solve a problem, one must first acknowledge it: Montreal is not safe right now and I promise Montrealers that the priority of our administration will be to work towards restoring their peace of mind,” said Mr. Coderre.
Adequate methods and equipment
While shootings are on the rise, police in the metropolis are also combating a major staffing shortage. Since 2017, 84 positions have been cut, in addition to retirements and annual turnover. In total, the SPVM would need approximately 250 new officers to meet growing needs. This number will be filled at the beginning of the mandate of Ensemble Montréal, who will unfreeze the hiring process while reevaluating the creation of new local positions to correspond to the increase in personnel and ensure coverage in all boroughs.
If the need arises, the party will ask the Quebec government to amend the relevant legislation to raise the total number of active police officers to 5,000, in addition to asking for adequate funding for the École nationale de police du Québec. The Coderre-Gelly administration will also ask the École to give a City official a statutory seat on its Board of Directors.
“Real-world conditions have changed a great deal recently, as have the citizens’ expectations of the police. For the SPVM to be able to keep up, police officers must be able to do their jobs. The solution is simple: we need to hire enough people,” said Karine Boivin Roy, mayoral candidate in Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.
In order to provide more flexibility and to react more quickly to emergent problems, a Force Majeure Contingency Fund for public safety crises will be created. The funding will be equivalent to 5% of the SPVM’s budget and will be drawn from traffic ticket revenues.
In addition to being short-staffed, some police officers also have to deal with the lack of resources. For example, some replacement intermediate weapons are still awaiting delivery while others are obsolete. In order to improve their efficiency, an inventory of the working condition of their equipment and rolling stock will first be prepared.
Modernizing police work
For Ensemble Montréal, increasing SPVM personnel requires modernizing their practices and continuously improving their work in the field in order to adapt to new realities. To do so, the party will seek to restore and improve the training offered to police officers and to establish partnerships with universities to promote innovative practices and adapt in real time to emergent issues. To ensure better communication and cohesion between the SPVM and City Hall, the Director of the Police Department will also be appointed Assistant City Manager of the City of Montreal.
“We want to eliminate the silo mentality. In order to keep the SPVM aware of all the City’s initiatives, especially at the social level, the director of the Police Service must share the same table as the administration and there must be a dialogue,” explained Suzanne De Larochellière, candidate for the position of borough councillor in the Saint-Léonard-Ouest district.
As announced, the number of patrol officers in the SPVM’s Psychosocial Emergency Support Team (ESUP) and Mobile Homelessness Referral and Intervention Team (EMRII) will be doubled. This investment, estimated at $10 million, will help ensure more appropriate follow-up, particularly with hospitals and social workers, and divert homelessness cases from the judicial process.
Restoring the confidence of Montrealers
To create a prevention ecosystem, the Coderre-Gelly administration will work to restore Montrealers’ trust in their police system. Understanding the role of portable cameras in this regard, the administration will call for tenders for their deployment within the first 100 days of its mandate. The notion of “upholding the public’s trust” will also be integrated into the SPVM’s fundamental mission, which will require assessing Montrealers’ perception of its performance and applying improvement measures on an ongoing basis.
The role of neighbourhood watch committees will be reviewed to ensure that they are at the forefront and to promote fruitful discussions between the communities and the SPVM. In addition, their network will be expanded to align the work of community groups and the police, taking into account local issues. Finally, we intend to launch a police mentoring initiative which could consist, for example, of campaigns to promote the value of police work and the perception of our officers as committed citizens who are part of the solution.
“It is possible to improve the efficiency of the police, to point out shortcomings, without going as far as questioning their legitimacy. The coverage pattern we are proposing will strengthen ties between the community and the police by ensuring the presence of community and local police across the island,” said Abdelhaq Sari, Official Opposition spokesperson on Public Security.
Certain infrastructures will be redesigned to make the City safer. A strategy will be put in place to address the lighting problems that enable various forms of trafficking and crime in certain areas. There could also be a broad consultation on the presence of surveillance cameras in hot zones, especially around Metro stations.
Prevention as a key to success
Finally, a real prevention strategy for young people will be put in place. This will include a sports and culture program to provide an antidote to violence, as well as a City-wide analysis of needs, existing resources and gaps to be filled in collaboration with community interest groups. Rather than funding the latter on a project-by-project basis, funds will be allocated on a recurring and per-mission basis to better respond to their needs, while ensuring in return that robust prevention objectives are set and achieved.
Recognizing that the issue of safety is not unique to Montreal, a group of “Canadian Cities against Violence” will be established. Its objective will be to bring the voice of all Canadian cities to the table, promoting the sharing of best practices to prevent and combat violence, and working in concert with the Federal government to improve the regulation of weapons. The Coderre-Gelly administration will also work with Canada’s police chiefs to ensure that there are national interconnections and standardize practices.
“The administration formed by Ensemble Montréal will take a strong leadership position on the issue of public security. We will be both facilitators and partners in the fight against violence. It is by working together that we will find lasting solutions to the various problems that we face,” added Jim Beis, Mayor of Pierrefonds-Roxboro.
For Denis Coderre and his team, the administration must be more attuned to the scope of the SPVM’s problems. For example, the mayor will be required to complete an annually renewed Basic Operational Knowledge (COBRA) session, which consists of accompanying a patrol officer in the field.
’“We are not just going to fight crime, we are going to secure neighbourhoods throughout Montreal, better finance and structure resources and ensure that our methods do not fall behind. This 360-degree vision of public security will enable to truly secure our neighbourhoods and our families as we restore Montrealers’ safety and security,” concluded the leader of Ensemble Montréal. Ensemble Montréal is introducing a comprehensive vigilance and security plan