AARON RAND: Pichet Plans to Change Police Culture in Montreal

Montreal police chief Phillippe Pichet's plan to change the culture inside the Montreal police force, was made public this week. It includes 38 points, that would help make the SPVM more transparent, efficient, and less corrupt.

This all stems from several former Montreal police officers speaking out publicly about everything from the planting of evidence, to the targeting of officers, to bribes, to fabricating evidence, to retribution and racism within the department. And this is the cops we're talking about, not the mob. 

The police chief himself admits that clan rivalry between groups of officers hasn't just suddenly come to light now, it's something that's been "immersed in the cultural fabric" of the force for years.

So if we've known about this for so long, why did it take a few rogue cops speaking out, to finally force something to change. Why didn't the police chief, who's been working inside the force for years, and who by his own admission knew this culture existed, do anything until now? 

What bothers me the most about this story, is that it tends to paint all policemen and women with the same brush, something that's not only unfair but wrong. The majority of police officers are hard working, dedicated, trustworthy, and honest, but the public's perception of them is tinged with cynicism by the scandals that have dogged the force, and, if we're being honest, by their decision to wear camo/clown pants as a form of protest. Sadly, too often these days when we talk about Montreal police, this is where the focus has shifted. 

So, how do we fix the poor public relations that our police are now dealing with? Here's my fix. How about we follow the lead being set by Calgary police, who are introducing a pilot project where police will take the idea of roadside goodwill to a new and unexpected level. 

Instead of giving out tickets for minor road infractions, i.e .illegal u-turns, outdated vehicle registration or window tinting, they'll be handing out ‘warning tickets’ instead, based on the belief that these types of situations benefit more from education, rather than a fine. 

Of course, this won't apply to things like speeding or driving dangerously, but warning someone instead of ticketing them for something minor, makes a lot of sense to me. Forgetting to renew your registration or failing to update your address if you've moved, shouldn't turn into a cash grab for police. If it's an honest mistake why NOT try the carrot versus stick approach?

It would definitely paint police in a better light, and might even encourage friendly dialogue with the people out to serve and protect us; two things our city's police force could certainly use.