Homeless population unfairly profiled by police: RAPSIM
Published Tuesday, February 9, 2016 5:09PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 9, 2016 7:10PM EST
People who live on the streets are being unfairly profiled by Montreal police, according to a study by a group working to help the homeless.
A recent study by the Réseau d'aide aux personnes seules et itinérantes de Montréal (RAPSIM) - a coalition of agencies working with those who are experiencing homelessness – showed that the situation on the streets “is unacceptable.”
“There are too many tickets given to people on the street, just because they are on the street,” said RAPSIM president Pierre Gaudreau.
They allege verbal and physical abuse, as well as social profiling.
“The police still act with an approach that is too often negative, too often aggressive, too often a lack of respect,” he said.
Alexander Bell, who lived on the street for more than 20 years, said many Montreal police officers treat the homeless with respect – but not all of them.
“There are individual police officers who seem to have a lot of personal anger that they work out with people on the street,” he said.
As the city cleans up places where the homeless community is known to congregate, including Cabot Square and Emilie-Gamelin Park, homeless individuals get pushed out and move on.
“The police there aren't necessarily equipped to deal with the situation or have never had to deal with the situation and all of sudden they are going to be faced with it,” said Projet Montreal councillor Sterling Downey.
RAPSIM believes officers need better training to better deal with the homeless population, particularly because many in the community are coping with mental health issues.
It is also asking for a public study on homelessness and social profiling, one they say the city promised 18 months ago.
They also recommend greater transparency in the Montreal police force.
“What we are saying today to Mr. Coderre is, ‘You were supposed to do it. Do it,’” said Gaudreau.
Downey said the solution is easy.
“Sit down, listen to the organizations. What worked, what didn't work, and then start to plan -- and plan every year,” he said.
Bell added that a more personal approach would also help.
“I think police could spend more time with the citizens,” he said.