Surete du Quebec: you get what you pay for?

The heads of police unions in Quebec are expressing concerns about the high cost of police consolidations, as more and more small  municipal forces get rolled up under the umbrella of the Surete du Quebec.

There should be concern. At issue is not only the problem of double taxation (cities like Montreal that have not been consolidated are paying twice, both for the SQ and the SPVM), but also the fact that once consolidated, municipalities cannot go back if citizens find they were provided better services prior to consolidation.

The period of SQ consolidation began en masse back in 70s under a then newly elected PQ government. I can well remember that one of the cornerstone problems with the investigation into my sister’s murder was at the cause of consolidation. Small police forces in Compton and Lennoxville were swept up by the SQ. Both towns had been the prociding police authority in the area where Theresa went missing (Lennoxville) and where her body was found (Compton). The newly appointed Surete du Quebec had only assumed control for a number of years at that time, and the force, in coming to grips with its new authority, bungled many procedures during the investigation.

This is typical when give authority over to a homogenized force, instead of the locals who know the area and can respond to the specialized needs of a community. I would take the SPVM over the SQ any day (and the Peel Regional Police over the RCMP for that matter). In light of recent missteps in Saint John, New Brunswick over the investigations of the Richard Oland and the Bacchus Motorcycle Club murder , some have called for the dissolution of the Saint John force; they would argue that the Mounties should assume control. The results would be disastrous for the Saint John community, and you need only look at THIS to see what you  would get when you ask umbrella governments to take control of local problems.

The province of Quebec should think twice before considering any more consolidation of its municipal forces. At the very least, in the wake of the upcoming elections, candidates should be required to express their position on consolidation, as requested by police union representatives. More here:

Police give wish list to Quebec election candidates

BY CATHERINE SOLYOM, THE GAZETTE AUGUST 18, 2012
MONTREAL – The heads of the Montreal Police Brotherhood and the Quebec federation of municipal police have given their wish list to candidates in the Sept. 4 election.

At the top, a promise not to eradicate any more of the province’s municipal police forces, in decline over the past 10 years as the Sûreté du Québec takes over, and a quest for more funding for Montreal, with the lion’s share of demonstrations and organized crime.

At a news conference Saturday morning, Police Brotherhood president Yves Francoeur said residents of larger cities like Montreal are paying twice for police services: once for their own municipal force, and through their income taxes to support the SQ in the rest of the province.

But Montreal itself, like other cities of more than 100,000 people, receives no funding for police services from the province, Francoeur said, despite making up one quarter of the population of Quebec — and accounting for one third of its crime.

“It’s in the big cities that crimes are generally committed, it’s in the big cities that there are demonstrations, it’s in the big cities that street gangs are a big problem,” Francoeur said, suggesting all municipalities should be subsidized to the same extent: to cover 47 per cent of the cost of policing.

In Montreal, the student demonstrations over the spring cost an estimated $15 million, Francoeur said.

By the beginning of July, some officers had racked up 700 hours of overtime.

Denis Côté, president of the Quebec federation of municipal police, decried the expansion of the SQ at the expense of a thousand municipal police officers, as more than 100 municipal forces have disappeared in the last decade.

The process by which the SQ can take over from a municipal police force, as they did in the last year in Rivière du Loup, Ste. Adèle and St. Georges de Beauce, is “undemocratic,” Côté said. While a mayor must consult the public, the city administration can decide to ignore the public’s views, and a decision cannot be reversed if the population is dissatisfied with the service it gets from the SQ.

Both Francoeur and Côté want electoral candidates to say what they will do to rectify the situation and to affirm they have no “hidden agenda” to put into place a single, national police force.

“The parties, both the Coalition Avenir Quebec and the Parti Québécois, are only talking about corruption, Yes, we have to talk about it… and find measures to eradicate it. But we’re saying position yourselves on other aspects (of public security),” Francoeur said.

“There are enough ex-police officers who are running for election to get a thought-out point of view on the issue from all the parties,” Côté said.

The CAQ’s star candidate, Jacques Duchesneau, was chief of the Montreal police from 1994 to 1998.

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