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Montreal police, STM reevaluating how they manage security in the metro


Montreal police and the STM have decided to re-evaluate security procedures in the metro system with the expected increase in the city's homeless population as winter approaches.

By the STM's own estimates, special constables in the metro witnessed a 75 per cent increase in interventions between 2018 and 2023.

Though most interventions do not involve violence, a number of highly publicized confrontations with police have led to an increased sense of insecurity among some riders.

"We have to do a job where we address incivilities, where we have to take actions in front of criminality because we're peace officers," said Jocelyn Latulippe, the STM's director of security.

It's now the Montreal police who will respond to 911 calls regarding crime and violence. Officers from all 16 neighbourhood stations will be dispatched, depending on the gravity of the situation.

It could include anything from a physical or sexual assault, to drug dealers taking over a particular entrance. The metro constables would then focus their job on enforcing STM regulations and fight what they call incivilities.

"We take charge of anything concerning incivilities, which is our mandate and especially within our mandate to provide a good feeling of security to our customers," said Ramana Zanfongnon, division manager of the city's diversity and social inclusion department.

However, the metro is also ground zero for a lot of social issues, like homelessness and mental illness. The STM and the police will bring in additional mental health resources to specifically intervene in these cases.

"So what we do is to take care of the people who are vulnerable, we take care of them, we ask what their needs are and we make sure they are they are referred to any services that exist in Montreal where they have access to better services," said Zanfongnon.

Advocates for the homeless population and those with mental illnesses say they're encouraged by the plan.

"I like the fact that there's a plan," said Sam Watts, the CEO and executive director of the Welcome Home Mission, adding that the success of the new plan will very much depend on how vulnerable people are treated.

"To the extent we behave civilly with each other we can advance together. In a lot of cases, it's as simple as how an officer approaches an individual," he said.

Reacting to the announcement, Abdelhaq Sari, Official Opposition spokesperson on public safety, underlined that the STM and the Montreal police service finally admitted "that the feeling of security among customers and staff is being impacted."

"This admission is a good start, but we remain skeptical that the restructuring presented today will solve the problem. What worries us most is that police response times to emergency calls now routed to neighbourhood stations rather than directly to staff in the metro network have not been disclosed," he said in a written statement.

Montreal police say the results might not appear overnight, but hope the new approach will pay off in the long run. Top Stories

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