The head of the Sûreté du Québec has been suspended until further notice pending a probe by the province’s police watchdog.
Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault, who made the announcement Wednesday, said there is an allegation of a criminal nature against director Martin Prud’homme.
Guilbault said she learned of the allegations on Tuesday, but said that no charges have been laid against Prud’homme. She did not provide details of the allegation or say when the offences are alleged to have occurred.
“I cannot go into details,” she said, adding that the suspension is administrative.
The investigation into the allegation is spearheaded by the province’s police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI). In a statement, the BEI said it will not disclose any information about the probe.
Guilbault said it is important to preserve the public’s confidence in Quebec’s institutions and to protect the province’s largest police force.
“This is of course a delicate situation,” said Guilbault. “And we especially want to avoid harming the investigation.”
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Mario Bouchard, the SQ’s deputy director, will take over Prud’homme’s duties during the investigation.
The official opposition critic for public security called the situation “disturbing.” Christine St-Pierre said she agrees with the province’s decision to temporarily relieve Prud’homme of his duties given the circumstances.
“He is at the head of the most important police corps in Quebec,” said St-Pierre. “We are talking about 8,000 employees. So I think the duty of the government was to do what it did.”
In 2014, Prud’homme was named the head of the police force under the previous Liberal government.
He recently returned as director of the SQ after he served as interim chief of the Montreal police for one year. In 2017, he was brought in following a damning report into the SPVM’s internal affairs.
The SQ declined to comment on the announcement.
— With files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher and The Canadian Press