Philippe Pichet suspended; SQ head takes over SPVM

Montreal Police Chief Philippe Pichet speaks to reporters during a news conference in Monday, October 31, 2016. File photo. Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press Images

Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux has suspended Montreal police chief Philippe Pichet and appointed the head of the Surêté du Québec Martin Prud’homme to take over the SPVM for the next 12 months.

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That decision came as the result of the report by former assistant deputy justice minister Michel Bouchard mandated in February to investigate a series of problems within the senior ranks of the Montreal police force. Montreal mayor Valerie Plante called the report “shocking to read.”

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The government of Quebec says it is not placing the police force under trusteeship but has given Prud’homme the mandate to address three main problems outlined in the Bouchard report: infighting among different groups within the force, concerns about the working environment and frustration about promotions and succession planning.

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The Public Security Minister believes Prud’homme has all the qualities needed to address these issues.

“The question was whether the current direction of the SPVM had the capacity and willingness to bring those changes to the organization. The conclusion of Mr. Bouchard is that the current administration to not show that kind of willingness and that kind of capacity so we had to intervene strongly and swiftly,” Coiteux told a Montreal press conference.

SQ assistant director Yves Morency will take over for Prud’homme during his yearlong absence.

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Bouchard’s complete report can be found on the website of the Ministère de la securité publique.

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Pichet was named Montreal police chief in 2015 by former mayor Denis Coderre. Mayor Valerie Plante says he is suspended with pay and that discussions will take place in the upcoming weeks on his future with the police force.

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Plante sought to reassure Montrealers that they can trust their police force.

“I would like to take this opportunity to remind Montrealers they can fully trust the men and women of our police force, who keep us safe on a daily basis,” she said.

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