Montreal's police force are going to get some fancy new toys, the kind that can split an eardrum and tear through a crowd of people. If the acquisition project goes as planned, the SPVM will be sporting fancy new sound cannons to use against protesters and disturbers of the "peace."
To be exact, these sound cannons are products of the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) Corporation. According to La Presse, the SPVM will be getting two makes of sound cannons: the 100 X, which can reach 137 decibels, and the 300 X, maxing at 143 decibels, both costing a grand total of $18, 000.
Sound cannons sound intense, and that's because they are. LRAD devices are marketed as communications devices, able to send a message to a crowd with ease. Against protesters, however, LRADs can use sound to subdue citizens into submission, as was the case in 2011's Occupy Wall Street protests and 2009's G20 summit, among many others.
An audiologist at the University of Montreal pointed out to La Presse that a sound of 130 decibels can seriously injure parts of the inner ear, if the person is close enough to the sound's source. Since both cannons can reach well above 130 decibels, Montrealers best invest in ear plugs.
Of course, the SPVM has stated the sound cannons will be used solely for communicative purposes, with the minimum distance away from eardrums always maintained. Still, we've all witnessed (either first-hand or on video) just how the SPVM and its riot police can react to protesters, so the LRADs being weaponized is a likely possibility. You know, in the spur of the moment and such.
Are sound cannons too much?
For more on all things Montreal, follow Michael on Twitter @MDAlimonte
In a press release, the SPVM said the decision is part of the force's effort to combat gun violence.
The new camera locations, the press release says, "were chosen following an analysis of gun violence events that have occurred in recent months."
While the existing 24 cameras are concentrated in Ville-Marie and the southern Plateau, the new cameras will be in Lachine, the Sud-Ouest, Saint-Michel, Saint-Léonard and Montréal-Nord.
The map below shows the locations of planned and existing police security cameras in Montreal.
Often affixed to lamp posts, the existing cameras are easily visible throughout downtown and on Google Maps.
At the time of writing, the SPVM has only determined approximate locations for planned cameras (in orange), in some cases only naming street spans or parks.
"The installation of new urban security cameras is in addition to several other measures deployed by police forces in our common desire to make neighbourhoods safer and to fight gun violence," SPVM spokesperson David Shane said in the press release.
"It is an additional tool that has its usefulness, particularly in criminal investigations."
In an online FAQ, police say the cameras can help identify crime perpetrators and provide real-time footage in case of ongoing fieldwork.
Denis Coderre's party, Ensemble Montréal, says it would hire 250 more Montreal police officers if it takes power after the November municipal election.
It claims this number represents 84 positions cut since 2017 plus retirements and annual renewals. Ensemble Montréal also raised the possibility of hiring even more officers.
"The realities on the ground have changed a great deal, as have citizens' expectations of the police," Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough mayor candidate Karine Boivin Roy said in a press release.
"For the SPVM to be able to keep up with these realities and demands, police officers must be able to do their job. There are not 1001 ways: we must hire enough people."
Ensemble Montréal has said it would double the number of officers on the SPVM's Psychosocial Emergency Support Team and Mobile Homelessness Referral and Intervention Team.
The new hires are just one of the ways the party plans to augment the police force.
It's also calling for a "major force contingency fund" for "one-time public security events;" an inventory of SPVM vehicles and tools, some of which it says are obsolete; and a restructuring of oversight committees to "bring them to the forefront and to promote fruitful discussions between the communities and the SPVM."
Coderre has long called for body cameras for Montreal police officers. Ensemble Montréal says its administration would launch a call for companies who could supply them.
Finally, the party says it would evaluate public "lighting problems that encourage various forms of trafficking and criminal acts" and start a "broad consultation" on the possibility of placing surveillance cameras in what it calls "hot spots," such as metro stations.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
Authorities have charged 36-year-old François Pelletier with first-degree murder following the stabbing death of Romane Bonnier, a 24-year-old Montreal woman, on Tuesday, October 19.
The SPVM told MTL Blog on October 20 that the victim and a then-unnamed suspect used to be roommates, but Audrey Roy Cloutier, spokesperson for the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP), could not confirm the nature of the relationship between Bonnier and Pelletier.
Cloutier explained, however, that a document detailing the nature of the charge states that the crime is suspected to have occurred "in the context of domestic violence."