The Quebec Association of Police Chiefs has launched a one year campaign to promote policing and raise the morale of officers.
Police brass say they want to counter what they say are misperceptions about law enforcement officers.
“It is complex to be a police officer in this reality right now,” Didier Deramond, association head, told reporters at a press conference held to launch the programme.
“I think there’s a lack of love by the population towards the police officers.”
The campaign will include a series of online videos showing examples of different police interventions and how they are handled, both by police and civilians.
A report by the Center for Research and Strategic Development of the National Police School of Quebec, released in November, said that police officers across Quebec are refusing to intervene in some situations while on duty because they fear repercussions.
The officers blamed public criticism, ignorance of police work, lack of organizational support and media scrutiny.
“We need to rejuvenate the public perception and the police officer’s perception of the new reality in the communities,” Deramond explained.
Some who work with marginalized groups caution, however, that given issues like racial profiling and violent interactions between mental health patients and some officers, police have a long way to go to regain public trust.
“How are you going to address the harm that you have done, and how are you going to improve so that we can trust you?” said Nakuset, executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal.
Others believe the police need to include the public and community groups more in their work.
Lashley concedes, however, that there’s hope.
“Not all police are bad,” she stressed. “I work with some really good ones and some who are really doing their best to change and they are holding their colleagues’ feet to the fire.”
She points out that, in the end, it’s dialogue that will lead to change.