Montreal police (SPVM) released a 50-page report looking into the current realities of policing and how the force can be improved, issuing 19 recommendations that range from tackling racial profiling to cybercrimes.
“The SPVM has undertaken a rigorous consultation process with its staff, which has produced a report titled ‘Reflections on police’s reality in Quebec,'” the force said in a statement.
The report looks at how police duties and crime have evolved over the years and the new challenges those changes represent for the force, such as the emergence of cybercrime.
“Everything suggests that the current resources are not enough to truly counter this type of crime efficiently: the cost of this type of investigation is very high and the knowledge and methods of investigation have to be constantly renewed given the rapid evolution of technology,” the report states.
The report recommended the creation of teams composed of civilians and police officers who are experts on the matter of cyber investigations.
The report also outlines the challenges in dealing with racial profiling.
Montreal police introduced a racial profiling policy in July. In addition to that, the report says the government should introduce mechanisms to support organizations in preventing and stopping behaviours that lead to racial profiling.
But some say the report is too limited in its scope.
“For example, it doesn’t say anything about race-based data collection, which is instrumental to any campaign or any struggle to combat racial profiling and policing,” said Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).
The report concludes that the current policing model cannot be maintained in Quebec, more specifically in Montreal, because it doesn’t take into consideration specific realities, such as the city’s diverse population and the scope of the crimes, and issues the force tries to address, including mental health crises and homelessness.
“We’ve given them these tasks and they’re not the best institution to do this,” said Ted Rutland, a Concordia University associate professor whose research focuses in part on policing.
“Primarily, what we need is to really think about is how to keep each other safe, how to keep each other secure, and to think about who the right institutions, services and actors are to secure people’s well being.”
The report comes on the heels of the “Defund the Police” movement, which argues the police is over-funded and the money should be re-distributed among community organizations and the Black Lives Matter movement, which is calling for justice in incidents of alleged police brutality against Black people.
The report was submitted to a province-wide review of the police system in Quebec, mandated by the province’s Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault in 2019.
“We created this committee in order to modernize our police forces in Quebec. Quebec’s Police Act hasn’t been dusted off in 20 years. Previous governments didn’t think it was good to do so,” said Amélie Paquet, a spokesperson for the Public Security ministry. “We will wait until the completion of all works before we comment on the proposals.”
The provincial committee in charge of looking into reforming the police will hold a virtual public forum from Nov. 12 to Nov. 19.
Community groups and individuals who have to frequently deal with police can participate and submit briefs with their own proposals to improve the police service.
— With files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher