Montreal could learn from Toronto on police reforms: city councillor

A Montreal city councillor is calling on the city to follow Toronto's example in laying out major reforms for the police force.

Among Toronto Mayor John Tory's suggested changes is a focus on deescalation techniques and the creation of a non-police led response team for mental health crises.

Montreal city councillor Marvin Rotrand said the city should follow suit.

“Clearly Toronto is the metropolis of Canada and what happens there is going to affect the rest of the country,” he said.

Rotrand said he plans to table several motions at city council in August addressing the SPVM.

“I'm also going to be calling for a review of our budget to see whether there are certain things we can now do through civilian services or we can do elsewhere,” he said.

In July the SPVM is expected to put an end to street checks after an independent report found officers engaged in systemic racial profiling. Earlier this month, another report criticized the city for failing to recognize systemic racism in the police department.

Alain Babineau, a former RCMP officer now with the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations, said he hopes to see change.

“They're sort of vowing to put in place some concrete actions so we have to remain optimistic,” he said. “But again, we need to follow the progress and make sure we keep the pressure on the city and the police to do the first steps.”

In a statement, the City of Montreal said the SPVM has already committed to bring forward a new street check policy that will be presented in July and has committed to review and put forward recommendations from the report on systemic racism.

But Rotrand said more needs to be done and on a quicker timetable.

“These elements regarding use of force, public consultation, reduction of the budget and allocation of amounts to civilian services that can do the same job less violently, they all go together,” he said.  

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