Montrealers will have a say in who and what kind of police chief they want to run the city’s top law enforcement position of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM).
City officials announced the public will be consulted through online surveys, one-on-one meetings or participation in focus groups.
Public consultations are held in Toronto to help decide the city’s top police job and Montreal wants to establish a similar process.
“It’s very important that there is that consultation,” Dominique Ollivier, Montreal’s executive committee president, said at a Tuesday press conference.
Fo Niemi, the executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), applauds the effort but says the future chief needs to be plugged into Montreal’s ethnic communities and be aware of the city’s special needs.
“How should the police deal with the homeless and people who have mental health needs? How to de-escalate? How to avoid fatal police intervention with excessive force?” he said.
Ollivier says that’s the plan.
“We want the head of the police service to be in tune with the Montreal population, with their aspiration, with the way they see public security in the next couple of years,” she said.
A joint city and police forum on youth violence was recently held in Montreal but some community groups complained they were excluded from the process.
Observers of the SPVM hope that won’t happen with the upcoming consultations.
“I really do hope that this actually is a transparent consultation and that they do listen to the results,” Ted Rutland, Concordia University associate professor who focuses on municipal politics, urban planning and urban security in Canada, told Global News.
The current police chief, Sylvain Caron, is set to retire on April 22. Sophie Roy will become the interim chief until a new permanent one is named.