After racism report, Montreal police say they will work to 'live up to the trust' of the public
MONTREAL -- Reacting to Monday’s report on systemic racism, the Montreal police force said in a statement that it acknowledges racism is a problem and will “undertake the necessary actions in order to live up to the trust [the public] place in us.”
The force didn’t go into much detail on if or how it would address systemic racism within its own operation, but the statement said police officials had carefully read and "welcomed" the document.
“We take note of all of the recommendations, particularly those that involve a response from the SPVM,” the statement said.
The report, which was written by the Office de Consultation publique de Montreal (OCPM) said that racial profiling by police was a major problem, and that it believes this will continue until city’s top police officials, and the force’s entire culture, are called into question.
Mayor Valerie Plante said Monday the city would be moving forward with equipping local police with body cameras.
The SPVM participated in the report, which contained some harsh criticism of its work. One subsection of the report is entitled, as translated to English, “Fear of Police Officers.”
In recently authorizing a class action lawsuit, the report said, “the Superior Court of Québec notes that ‘in spite of the actions taken for over 30 years, racial profiling is still a reality within the SPVM.’”
The force noted that "racism and discrimination are prohibited behaviors in police practices" and within department administration, but said it would work with the public to take new measures.
It was an unusual statement from the police force in its acknowlegement of the idea of systemic racism. The force “recognizes the systemic nature of racism and discrimination and (is) committed to taking action to combat them,” it said.
Quebec Premier François Legault has drawn criticism in the past week for his statement that there is no systemic racism in the province.
Advocate Balarama Holness said he was underwhelmed by the statement. He pointed out the SPVM and the city were legally obligated to participate in the report.
"The Mayor and the SPVM are simply responding to pressure," he said. "That does not guarantee concrete action."