In the wake of a wave of protests against systemic racism in Quebec, community organizations in Montreal are taking action to change the way the province thinks about policing.

The Clinique Juridique de Montréal-Nord has joined forces with Hoodstock and community lawyers to create a new app — and, according to the website, it's "a democratic tool to balance power between the authorities and the community."

Bon Cop Bad Cop aims to normalize police complaints, connect Montrealers with legal clinics and lawyers, as well as inform them of their rights in regards to police stops. 

The developers told MTL Blog they hope a wave of complaints about police stops, made with the help of the app, will force the city of Montreal to rethink its way of local policing.

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Why was this app created?

Marie-Livia Beaugé, a lawyer and the founder of the nonprofit legal clinic in Montreal-Nord, created the app alongside Hoodstock's Will Prosper and fellow lawyer Arij Riahi.

Beaugé said she thought of the idea for an app when she realized too many people did not know their rights when it came to police stops. She also said that officers in Montreal sometimes carry out arrests for no reason.

"Most people are always on their phone," she said. "So, I thought that having an app would help people in that sense."

What does the app do?

Beaugé said the app allows people to record audio of police stops when they occur.

She said the app allows people to book an appointment with the legal clinic of Montreal-Nord or another lawyer, and that it features articles and tips on the police force's power and citizen rights. 

 

 

She also said the creators intend to collect very specific information about the circumstances of the police stop through forms that users will fill out in order to help other people that find themselves in similar situations with police.

Why is this type of app needed? 

Beaugé told us that information around police stops is ambiguous and can be difficult for people to navigate through official channels.

She hopes the app — the first of its kind in Montreal — will prove the wrongdoings done to citizens by police through a wave of complaints about illegal stops.

Through proactive citizen complaints about routine stops, the app developers said they hope the city of Montreal will change the way it handles policing.

Recording a police officer with a camera is legal in Canada. The SPVM does not currently indicate the circumstances that justify police checks in their reports.

However, the SPVM announced in July that its new policy regarding police checks is supposed to come into effect this fall.

Beaugé says there's been a delay with app stores but that the app should be released soon for both Apple and Android.

At moment, it's only available for Montreal users, but she says she plans to expand its reach to the rest of the province.

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