What is the most effective way to fight crime?
That’s the question on many people’s minds following Tuesday’s announcement by Montreal police to deploy a new unit to fight violent crime.
“Well, the announcement is incredibly vague,” said Ted Rutland, associate professor at Concordia University. “We know that there’ll be 68 police officers who’re going to combat gun violence.
According to a description on the service website the new unit, which is expected to start in September, will be called ARRET, an acronym for action, repression, resolution, engagement, terrain.
The information on the website reads, “the objective is to increase the pressure on the criminal elements at the origin of the violent events in order to increase the feeling of security of the citizens.”
“The ARRET project, of indefinite duration, will allow the SPVM to intensify its presence in the field from now on.”
“They say they’re going to occupy territory,” criticized Rutland, “but they don’t say what territory. They say they’re going to put pressure on the people who’re responsible for gun violence but they don’t specify who they mean.”
ARRET is the latest in a series of new police measures taken since last year aimed at tackling gun violence.
Saturday the province promised to invest $250 million to help hire up to 450 police officers.
Last year the force created ECLIPSE to fight gun violence, and the the new ARRET team, made up of existing officers will become part of ECLIPSE.
Some anti-gun activists applaud the new initiative.
“It’s important for our safety that there’s strategies, means, approaches involved, engaged in this fight,” stressed Nathalie Provost, spokesperson for PolyRemembers, a group formed in the wake of the Polytechnic massacre.
Provost is a survivor of that shooting. She argues any effort needs to go beyond policing.
“We need to have a proper gun control system,” she stressed.
Critics of the latest police initiative, like former police officer Alain Babineau, are wondering how adding more police officers to ECLIPSE will be useful. Babineau is director of racial profiling and public safety for the anti-racism lobby group, Red Coalition.
“To think that we can police our way out of gun violence is pretty illusory,” he pointed out, “because that’s never happened anywhere in North America.”
Rutland believes police aren’t doing enough to justify their initiatives and says despite present community initiatives and investments, even more crime prevention needs to be done at the community level.
“All new money that goes towards gun violence should be going to community crime prevention,” he stressed
Montreal police declined a request to answer questions about ARRET.