An internal investigation into the Montreal police service has revealed some troubling characteristics of the municipal organization meant to protect and serve the people of Montreal.
A report, written by Former deputy justice minister Michel Bouchard, that investigates a little over 1000 internal SPVM cases between 2010 and 2017, was released to the public this week, outlining what’s going on within the SPVM.
According Bouchard’s report, a "climate of tension and suspicion…has developed" in the SPVM, reports CBC.
Police Chief Philippe Pichet was suspended on Wednesday following the release of the report. And it isn’t surprising to see why.
Numerous internal investigations that dealt with the actions of police officers were “botched,” says the report, according to CBC. Some of these investigations involved serious allegations, like corruption and brutality.
Details on some of these investigations have been outlined by CBC, painting a rather dark portrait of the SPVM that seriously calls into question the police organization’s ability to “protect and serve.”
One case from 2013 involved a citizen filing a complaint about alleged death threats made by four SPVM officers. The complaint was made to the Sureté du Québec (the province’s police organization) which then sent the info over to the internal affairs department of the SPVM. And then it didn’t really go anywhere.
After the complaint was filed, more than a year passed before an investigator was assigned by the SPVM. By that point, the complainant couldn’t be found, mainly because of the giant delay, says the report.
Pretty much the exact same thing happened when a civilian filed a complaint against a police officer who supposedly threatened them with charges, even though they didn’t commit a crime or legal infraction.
Once again, the complaint was filed, an incredibly long time passed before anyone investigated the case, and then the whole thing was dropped.
Connections to organized crime within the SPVM were also alluded to in the report.
A 2013 internal investigation looked into whether or not a high-ranking officer was linked to organized crime groups. According to the report, the investigation was “treated lightly,” with nowhere near the same level of effort or documentation seen in the case’s collected files in comparison to other, similar cases.
The police officer being investigated was promoted, more than once, after the investigation began.
Another “serious allegation of corruption” centred on one SPVM officer received “only a single page” of attention, the report revealed. The investigation had scarce details and wasn’t followed up on, either.
Worse still is a finding in the report involving a case concerning a young girl, aged 14, and a Montreal police officer.
According to the teenager, an SPVM officer physically struck her when at a Metro station exit.
Follow up by the SPVM involved no questioning of witnesses at the scene. The report describes this particular instance as a “botched investigation” and no “real efforts [were made] to complete the case."
Each of these examples is troubling, and the report probably has many more. Quebec’s Public Security Minister has said there’s a "systemic and very serious problem" in the SPVM in light of the details revealed by Bouchard’s report.
Montreal’s official opposition leader, Lionel Perez, has called the current police crisis newly elected mayor Valerie Plante’s “first test” of leadership, reports The Gazette. Perez also took a moment to criticize Plante for being abroad during the ongoing crisis.