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Quebec hoping to inspire change with new policing project

by Alyssia Rubertucci and CityNews Staff
POSTED JUN 14, 2021 6:18 PM MDT

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MONTREAL (CityNews) – A new community-based police team in Longueuil, on Montreal’s south shore, is being established.
The Quebec government investing $3.6 million to train officers on social issues and immerse them in the community to work on prevention first.
Something deputy Premier Genevieve Guilbault says could lay the foundations for a new policing model for the entire province and change the role of officers in Quebec forever.
“This kind of project, if it works out, could be an inspiration for other police forces across Quebec,” said Guilbault. “Police officers will officially be able to do their work directly in the community. Linking relationships with citizens, with vulnerable groups of citizens, mental health, profiling racism, drug addiction, homelessness.”
RESO project will be made up of 24 handpicked officers in Longueuil, who won’t be responding to 911 calls. They’ll be aiming to handle issues within the community, from relationships with the most vulnerable and aiming to ultimately reduce 911 calls.
Social and civic courses begin in the fall with officers without uniforms or weapons, and they’ll be deployed by 2022. With the goal of eventually making up 50 per cent of the force, with these community based officers.
“Staying in the community and trying to prevent and be proactive, 90 per cent work is always reacting. 911 and send police to the call, it’s already too late,” said Fady Dagher, Director of the Longueuil Agglomeration Police Department. “Trying to be proactive, trying to be in the community way before, years before to be able to avoid the crisis.”
“It’s an interesting way of integrating the police with the community. Would I say it could work. There would be a lot of possible backlash,” said Joel DeBellefeuille, who won racial profiling cases against Longueuil at a human rights tribunal. “A major conversational piece when it comes to the attention that they’re going to [be] adding more police cars to certain regions? That could take negative adverse effect.”
DeBellefeuille was at the center of a groundbreaking decision in November, after winning his racial profiling case against the Longueuil police and city for a driving while Black stop eight years earlier.
Quebec’s human rights tribunal ordered the city, a former, and a current Longueuil police officer to pay DeBellefeuille $12,000 and implement training.
“Great start. I’m sure there was some slight influence through the human rights tribunal decision in regards to implementing,” he added. “Certain steps they had to do, which was collection race related data, creating some sort of program or incentive with the force. So there was a contributing factor.”
Part of Monday’s announcement also included funding to establish a psychosocial intervention team working with officers.
At the end of May, Quebec’s policing committee found that police forces are poorly adapted to handling cases involving mental illness, domestic violence or cybercrime.
The government saying this new project may be a first step in modernizing policing.



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