Police officers across Quebec are refusing to intervene in some situations while on duty because they fear repercussions, according to a study.
“This is happening in Canada, so at the police academy we were interested if this was happening in Quebec as well,” Camille Faubert from the Center for Research and Strategic Development of the National Police School of Quebec told Global News.
The finding is the result of the police school’s study that measures police disengagement. Twenty-one officers across the province participated.
Faubert said she was surprised by the nearly 200 police officers who initially volunteered to talk about disengagement. The officers in the study were randomly picked from this group.
“A few of them told me about leaving or quitting their police career as a form of disengagement,” said Faubert.
The reasons some officers are ignoring some calls include fears of the consequences, such as being accused of racial profiling, public confrontation, and the potential impact on their private lives.
Other reasons: public criticism and ignorance of the police profession, lack of organizational support and media scrutiny.
It’s similar to other studies in Canada and the United States.
According to one published in 2019 in Carlton University in Ottawa, “a substantial majority of today’s rank-and-file officers in the 23 jurisdictions across both countries (72%) are intentionally reducing, or eliminating, proactive interactions in the community…”
That survey did not include Quebec.
Former Montreal police inspector André Durocher isn’t surprised by the conclusions of the Quebec report, but he has concerns
“If we get to the point where police are not going to intercept you because they’re afraid of being targeted for racial profiling or being on social media and everything,” he reasoned, “well, it’s going to lead to some of the things we’re seeing.”
He agrees that officers need support from all levels, from politicians to community groups. But he pointed out that the support should be balanced with cracking down on those who break the law.
Durocher sympathizes with the officers.
“But I must remind them what they are there for, what they are paid for, and with the job security, with the pay, comes responsibility,” he pointed out.
The study is continuing.
According to the academy, in January an online survey will be launched to validate the findings.
Faubert said the results could eventually be used to improve training at the police academy.