Despite recent criticism and controversy surrounding intervention strategies, the STM is still moving ahead with its plan to grant officers "special constable designation" subject to the Police Act and the Commissaire à la déontologie policière as of July 2021.
MTL Blog reached out to the STM to find out more about these plans and how they will affect customer relations moving forward.
What are these powers and how will they affect me?
STM officers will soon have a more expanded role in interventions. These powers will grant them the right to arrest people "on reasonable grounds [...] in accordance with the provisions of the Criminal Code and intervene in the case of a person suspected of harassment."
In addition, the STM tells MTL Blog that officers will be able to intervene in case of a traffic infraction near metro and bus stations "where reserved lanes or terminals are blocked by illegally parked vehicles."
According to an independent report conducted by the Centre international de criminologie comparée at Université de Montréal, STM officers will not be allowed to carry weapons such as pistols, TAZERs, or pepper spray.
They claim these powers were established to help provide "a sense of safety and by ensuring smooth travel for customers."
Why is the STM granting special powers to its inspectors?
According to the STM, "obtaining the designation of special constable will give inspectors the tools they need to participate more actively in improving customer experience."
The company insists that "the change will bring more robust accountability" as the inspectors will be subject to the rules and regulations of the Police Act.
What this means that if anything questionable should happen during an intervention, the "Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes will be able to take over investigations in accordance with the Act."
This change will be done "progressively" and the company will host public information sessions before fully implementing these new powers.
Why is the STM under so much scrutiny?
On April 17, a video of two STM officers arresting and striking a Black woman at Jean-Talon metro after she allegedly didn't pay her $3.50 fare surfaced online and raised questions of why such heavy force was required.
The STM alleged that the use of force was appropriate according to its model of engagement.
A high-profile incident where two officers beat a Black man with batons for allegedly bouncing a basketball led to an investigation that concluded the officers did "nothing wrong."