Sylvain Caron is officially the new chief of Montreal police after he was sworn in at city hall on Wednesday afternoon.
In early November, the former Sûreté du Québec police officer was tapped by then-interim chief Martin Prud’homme to take on that role.
In his report into the internal affairs of Montreal police, Prud’homme recommended the next chief should come from outside the force and suggested two different names. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante’s administration announced the following day it had chosen Caron as the next leader of the force.
Caron has 37 years of police experience, including 20 years in management. In 1981, he joined the Sorel-Tracy municipal police department and served as director from 1997 until 2002.
The new police chief also served in administrative positions at the Sûreté du Québec until his retirement in March 2018.
Caron’s appointment comes at a time when the police force is in a delicate state. In November 2017, police chief Philippe Pichet was suspended and Prud’homme was brought in for a one-year mandate following a damning report into the department’s internal affairs.
In his own report, Prud’homme said the priority is to continue to stabilize the force and restore the public’s trust. He also suggested creating a bureau to monitor internal affairs.
Caron, for his part, said he is looking forward to making the police force one that listens to citizens and can be trusted.
“Trust is built daily with small gestures in each and every one of our stations and interventions that we do,” he said.
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The swearing-in ceremony also comes on the heels of the Montreal police force’s latest plan to prevent racial profiling by its officers. It includes the promise to begin collecting and analyzing data on complaints against police officers accused of racial profiling.
The 10-point policy presented by Caron on Tuesday was short on details but did include steps to hire more visible minorities and facilitate better communication with the public.
The Black Coalition of Quebec has also announced it is seeking approval for a $4-million class-action lawsuit against the police department.
The coalition’s lawyer says there are 500 claimants named in the suit, each seeking approximately $8,000 in damages as victims of racial profiling.
— With files from Global’s Gloria Henriquez and the Canadian Press