The advent of a civilian at the head of the SPVM is open to debate

News 8 December, 2017
  • Photo Chantal Poirier
    Martin Prud’homme

    Laurence Houde-Roy

    Friday, December 8, 2017 00:47

    Friday, December 8, 2017 00:47

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    The real change of culture at the SPVM will pass by the arrival of a civilian at the head of the police force, believe the elect, but it could never be accepted because of the clan wars.

    The minister of public Safety, Martin Coiteux, and the mayor of Montreal, Valerie Plant, announced on Wednesday that the suspension with pay of the chief of police Philip a Pitcher. It will be replaced during the next year by the director general of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) Martin Prud’homme. The position at the head of the SPVM will then be opened.

    “Following the findings of the report Bouchard (see other text), it is obvious that the next chief of police can not come to the house, writes the leader of the opposition in Montreal, Lionel Perez. One wants to avoid the issues of rivalry of the clans, it is thus preferable that the chief is a civilian to do the housework and change the culture. “

    Mp pq Pascal Bérubé, and Amir Khadir of Québec solidaire, also argued yesterday that the chief of POLICE must be a civilian, an idea that does not preclude the City of Montreal.

    “Yes, a civilian usually do not belong to these clans, but may not have the expertise in police management,” says Alex Norris, chair of the Committee of public safety and elected Project Montreal.

    Little acceptance

    “This is not normal to see someone from the outside in a police organization. It is accepted that in exceptional situations, ” says Florent Gagné, who had himself been appointed as a civilian at the head of the SQ, in 1998, in a similar context.

    Today a consultant in public policy, Mr. Gagné joined the SQ, just after the publication of the report Poitras. The paper had studied the methods of investigation of the police force of 4000 members and urged the SQ to redesign its practices.

    “It took me at least 10 months before being accepted to the internal. I did pass a credibility test, I was asked if I had already done the patrol, if I had already decided on someone, ” he recalls.

    For that his reforms are accepted, it will be necessary that he surrounds himself with ” the most healthy of the organization.”

    But he admits that other people could never win their bet in a police organization.


    “Florent was a very good administrator, but he was missing something : he was not of their. It creates an enormous gap, like a Berlin wall, ” explains Jean-Pierre Gariépy, who has worked with Mr. Won after becoming police chief of Laval in 1997, following 25 years to the SQ.

    “When arriving to Laval, I’ve had a pullback, remembers Mr. Gariépy. The acceptance of association is difficult. Fortunately, my father had worked in the municipal setting, so it helped break the ice, ” he recalls.

    Mr. Gariépy believes that appointing a civilian to the head of the SPVM would be a bad idea and would not move the organization forward.

    “The police view it as a punishment for the organization, they live in the hope of having a director from their organization, who has lived through the same things as them. It is a question of pride and belonging. “