Montreal police to receive millions in funding after recent episode of gun violence
MONTREAL -- Montreal police are getting reinforced to the tune of $5.5 million in city funding to hire more officers and civilian aides.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced the funding on Sunday, the morning after the most recent episode of gun violence in Saint-Michel saw one injured and seven detained.
The mayor says the money will add 42 positions to the force, to be filled with officers and civilians tasked to investigate criminal groups and staff anti-gang teams.
It’s the second time the city has stepped up efforts to combat gun violence this summer, recently partnering with the province to create a hybrid team of officers to crack down on gun trafficking.
“Since the beginning of the year, we have intensified our support for the SPVM and will continue in this direction in order to stop this violence as quickly as possible,” said the mayor.
“The recent increase in armed violence forces us to act quickly and effectively,” she said. “This is what we are doing once again today.”
Most of the newly hired officers will reinforce the ÉCLIPSE unit – a division which specializes in fighting violent crime.
Not everyone agrees that the money will help end gun violence.
Concordia University Associate Professor Ted Rutland, who studies the intersections of race and urban geography, has advocated for the city to spend more on community groups to quell the rise in gun crime.
He says he was disappointed in the mayor’s announcement.
“I think it's a terrible, terrible decision,” he said.
He says that community organizations are better equipped to prevent gun crime than police.
“You need a whole series of measures that come from the community,” he said, including guidance programs for young people, job opportunities, support workers, and mental health resources.
“To see another $5 million given to the police, and no money given to community organizations shows that [the city] completely misunderstands what public safety means and how you improve it.”
Rutland says the announcement was likely made in anticipation of the November municipal election.
“It's clearly an electoral strategy on the part of Projet Montreal, which wants to appear tougher on crime and more pro-police than Denis Coderre.”
He’s not the only who thinks the city’s recent investments in police are motivated by the campaign.
Days ago, an internal letter sent to members of Montreal’s police brotherhood stated the municipal government has a "poor understanding of public safety and has only supported police officers since it became an election issue."
The brotherhood insisted it’s not aligned with any of the mayoral candidates. Rather, it said it was concerned about the lack of manpower in fighting gun violence on the island.
The letter was written by brotherhood president Yves Francoeur after two Montreal police officers were allegedly targeted in a possible shooting attempt outside the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).
"This vicious attack on the justice system feeds insecurities surrounding the shootings, all in a context of pandemic fatigue," Francoeur notes, adding that many "exhausted police officers" are being forced to do overtime in order to continue covering the territory.
City Council's Official Opposition has expressed similar sentiments, with leader Karine Boivin Roy and public safety critic Abdelhaq Sari stating that Plante's plan is "too little too late."
"It has been more than a year since the Plante administration was alarmed by the increase in criminal activity in Montreal. The city should have acted long before and this late announcement is only an electoral consideration, especially since there will be no additional staffing until 2022."
CTV News reached out to the brotherhood for a reaction to Sunday’s announcement but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
-- With files from CTV's Matt Grillo and Rachel Lau, and The Canadian Press