Talk is Cheap

Some nuggets of joy from Paul Cherry’s interview with SQ head Normand Proulx

“I don’t want people to just come in and do their job; I want people to do work passionately.”

[Ya, good luck with that.]

(Proulx) is quick to mention that at 136, the SQ is three years older than the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which is well-known beyond Canada’s borders.

[You’re well known, some might call you “notorious”]

Many simply don’t have an overall sense of what the SQ is, Proulx said.

[You mean it’s not just about drinking coffee, reading Le Devoir and dolling out traffic tickets on the 117?]

Along with emphasizing its past, Proulx said he also wants to modernize the SQ’s day-to-day operations, which he estimates will take two to three years.

[We have you on record… we’ll check back July 2008 and see how that’s going.]

Part of the planned changes involve upgrading equipment, including the SQ’s communications infrastructure.

[Ya, that was my idea, but we’ll let you take credit for it.]

Here’s the complete story:

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Deal done, the force is with him

With marathon labour talks and a new contract behind him, the head of the SQ says it’s time for him and his 4,800 officers to modernize, evolve and ‘do beautiful things’

Surete du Quebec chief Normand Proulx, visiting The Gazette, says he hopes to instill a sense of belonging in his officers.

PAUL CHERRY, The Gazette
Published: Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Now that he has left contract negotiations in his rear-view mirror, Surete du Quebec chief Normand Proulx wants to move on.

In an interview with The Gazette, Proulx said he is looking forward to finally heading the provincial police force with its 4,800 unionized officers, who now have a new labour agreement.

Last week, the members of L’Association des policieres et policiers provinciaux du Quebec voted 62 per cent in favour of signing a new contract. It’s retroactive deal to 2003 and will extend to 2010. The union had been without a contract since June 2002.

“I have been chief for three years and this past week was my first where we weren’t in negotiations,” Proulx said. “That changes the dynamics. I think we can do beautiful things to advance, to evolve the Surete du Quebec like Quebec society evolves.

“I want to develop a sense of belonging in the Surete,” said Proulx, who is proud to tell you he once served as as patrol officer.

In fact, during his 32 years with the force, 50-year-old Proulx has worked as a patrol officer, investigator and head of investigations in St. Eustache. He was head of the bodyguard division from 1988 to 1992 and was once a bodyguard for a member of the late premier Robert Bourassa’s family.

“If people are happy, if people don’t think of themselves as just numbers at the Surete du Quebec, they will come to work dedicated and do better work,” he said. “I don’t want people to just come in and do their job; I want people to do work passionately.”

Proulx said he is dedicated to making himself available to his officers and hopes to develop a sense of pride in the uniform. He is quick to mention that at 136, the SQ is three years older than the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which is well-known beyond Canada’s borders.

By taking over the policing duties from several municipal police forces in recent years, the SQ has absorbed more than 1,200 officers from other organizations. Many simply don’t have an overall sense of what the SQ is, Proulx said.

“We have a lot of officers, even officers who have spent their career in the Surete du Quebec, who don’t know our history.”

Along with emphasizing its past, Proulx said he also wants to modernize the SQ’s day-to-day operations, which he estimates will take two to three years.

Part of the planned changes involve upgrading equipment, including the SQ’s communications infrastructure.

The plans stirred concerns that the SQ would replace its 11 call centres across the province with two centralized ones. But Proulx told The Gazette there has been no decision regarding the centres and that calls for tenders to purchase new systems haven’t even been made.

Proulx said the current communications system has served the Surete well, but its technology is rapidly becoming obsolete.

A more modern system is important for the safety of Surete du Quebec personnel, especially those patrolling remote areas, he said.

For example, SQ patrol cars are not outfitted with a global positioning system, which could instantly pinpoint their location. With newer technology, dispatchers could quickly assess which patrol car is closest to an emergency and inform the officer of the fastest way to get there.

Newer information systems would also eliminate the need for patrol officers to call headquarters to verify if a driver they have pulled over has any outstanding warrants or traffic violations, Prolux said.

“We want to go with a system that is already proven,” Proulx said. “We don’t want to be conducting tests. When a police officer presses on the (distress) button it has to work.”

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