Montreal's police department is recommending criminal charges against 44 city employees stemming from the ransacking of city hall.

The charges include assault and mischief.

Disciplinary action will also be taken against police officers who stood by and let the protesters run wild during a pension reform protest at City Hall on August 18. 

The protesters, mostly firefighters, threw glasses of water, set off smoke bombs, hit city councillors and chased Mayor Denis Coderre from room to room until he barricaded himself in his office.

During the protest Montreal police officers stood by, not even looking as protesters plastered stickers all over the walls of city hall and set fires outside.

Mayor Denis Coderre said at a Friday afternoon press conference that 63 city employees are being investigated. All but 11 of them are firefighters.

Thirty-nine employees (including 30 firefighters) have already been suspended without pay. No police officers took active part in the protest, Coderre noted.

"What happened that day is unacceptable," said Coderre. "I want to appeal to the city workers, police and firefighters. I trust that you’re part of the solution, you do impeccable work and if some individuals went too far that’s their own problem and I won’t generalize. You have taken an oath to serve and protect. The safety of the population needs to be total."

Coderre also noted that a plan is in place to deal with further unrest, although he did not explain what that option could be.

Montreal Police Director Marc Parent wrote in a press release issued Friday that he created a special investigative team on the day after the protest.

The investigative effort also enlisted the assistance of the Office of Internal Audit, the Minister of Public Security as well as an attorney for the Department of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions and a Quebec Court judge, who assessed the evidence and authorized the charges.

Parent also announced the creation of an independent civilian review committee to ensure that police "respect their administrative and disciplinary management principles," according to the press release.