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Montreal police looks to diversify its force

Montreal police and fire department look to diversify their forces
Montreal police and fire department look to diversify their forces

Montreal police held a diversity recruitment session on Saturday in an effort to encourage visible minority groups to join the force.

This comes after a report commissioned by the City of Montreal was published in October 2019 showing that Black, brown and Indigenous people suffer clear systemic discrimination from officers.

The report showed that these groups were between four and five times more likely to be arrested than white people.

READ MORE: Indigenous, black people more likely to be stopped by Montreal police: report

After the report was published, police Chief Sylvain Caron said he promised concrete and rapid action to address the racial profiling issue within his force.

Montreal police said on Saturday it wants to do everything possible so that officers and other staff more accurately represent Montreal’s population.

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According to the force’s most recent annual report, 92 per cent of its officers are white.

Police officer Miguel Alstom told Global News on Saturday that part of the problem is that people of color do not trust police and therefore don’t pursue the career. So part of that solution, he said, is to go out and recruit and encourage people to do so.

Alstom added that in order to change the culture within the police force, the force needs to be made up of people from a wide range of cultural and racial backgrounds. He said that this will also serve them to better address Montreal’s diverse communities.

READ MORE: Racial profiling class-action lawsuit against Montreal gets green light

Alain Babineau, an advisor at the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), told Global News the recruiting initiative is great but trust between people of colour and police needs to be established on a daily basis.

“You need to restore the trust first before you can actually get people to come in and join,” Babineau said.
The city’s fire department co-hosted the recruitment event, which took place in Montreal’s diverse Saint-Michel neighborhood. The fire department, which is 99 per cent white, is also looking to diversify its firefighters and staff.
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City councillor Rosannie Filato told Global News she believes it’s important to reach out to minority groups in order to recruit them, adding that if the force wants more gender equality, it’s necessary that they reach out to more young women as well.
–With files from The Canadian Press
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