Annual Montreal police report reveals demographic gaps, rise in attempted murder and assault rates
A file photo of a Montreal police officer. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
MONTREAL -- A lack of diversity, shifts in criminal activity, and higher rates of traffic injuries defined 2019 for the Montreal police.
The SPVM has released its annual report. Here’s what you need to know:
Out of the 4,562 officers on the force by the end of 2019, men outnumbered women 2-1 at nearly all levels.
Only 367 of those officers, about eight per cent of the force, were visible minorities. Of them, 301 were men. That ratio does not include ethnic minorities or Indigenous officers, which together make up 13 per cent.
There were 33 First Nations officers, making up just .72 per cent of the force. Among higher ranks, there were just three male officers with Indigenous backgrounds.
Alain Babineau, advisor to the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), retired as an RCMP staff sergeant after nearly 30 years on the force. During his career in policework, he was involved in recruiting new officers in Quebec.
Visible minorities make up 33 per cent of Montreal’s population. Babineau says the SPVM needs to represent the community it serves.
“It would give the SPVM some more credibility,” he said. “Eight per cent is ridiculous.”
Babineau says a more diverse SPVM would not only increase confidence among racialized communities, but it would also make for a more equipped police force.
“They have no idea about our daily struggle,” he said.
The SPVM has increased the amount of visible minorities on the force over 2018. Out of the 180 officers hired in 2019, 42 per cent were women, and 26 per cent identified as Indigenous or as belonging to a minority group.
Miguël Alston, the Officer-in-charge of Attraction for a diverse workforce, says the SPVM is trying to make their workforce more diverse.
"We are looking for best practices in other Police Departments in Canada and Internationally," he said in a statement to CTV News. He says they've also conducted internal consultations with people of colour on the force.
The SPVM also recruits people from minority groups through various outreach campaigns and through their employment equity program.
“Crimes against the person,” such as assault and robbery, were up 15 per cent overall. That increase was driven by sharp upticks in attempted murder, up 15 per cent, and assault, up 21 per cent over the year before.
One notable exception was the homicide rate, which was down 22 per cent from 2018. Twenty-five people were killed, in a return to a more average rate following a particularly deadly 2018, where 32 people fell victim to homicide.
There were 2,387 robberies, six per cent more than 2018, however a continuation of a gradual decline since 2015.
HIGHEST CRIME RATE: DOWNTOWN, PLATEAU. MONTREAL NORTH TOPS ASSAULT RATES
Station 21, covering downtown, Île Notre-Dame, Île Sainte-Hélène, and Old Montreal recorded the most criminal offences of any precinct. Petty larceny, or low-level theft against a property, was the most common offence in this largely commercial district.
There were 709 accounts of assault around station 21. That’s one of the highest counts in the city, behind Le Plateau-Mont-Royal with 867 accounts, and Montreal North with 1,004.
Le Plateau-Mont-Royal had the second highest crime rate overall.
The SPVM called 2019 a year “marked by a series of accidents involving older pedestrians.”
Twenty-four pedestrians died in collisions last year. That’s a 33 per cent increase from 2018. Seventy-four people suffered serious injuries, down from nearly 90 the year before.
Driving under the influence is up 10 per cent, however other driving offences are down from 2018. The SPVM recorded about 18 per cent fewer accounts of reckless driving.
Injuries among cyclists were down across the board at a 10 per cent decrease over last year, although four more people died in collisions.