Montreal police union approves of new chief
Published Thursday, December 7, 2017 12:23PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 7, 2017 6:44PM EST
It's a new day with a new chief of police in Montreal.
The 4,200 officers that make up the SPVM are now being led by Martin Prud'homme, who is also the chief of Quebec's provincial police force, the Sureté du Quebec.
On Wednesday, the province and the city of Montreal suspended Chief Philippe Pichet following the release of a report that analyzed his leadership since he was appointed in 2015.
The head of the union, Yves Francoeur, said Pichet was not able to gather the leadership team necessary to be trusted by officers.
"When we have somebody at the head who doesn't have the leadership to be there it's a problem and when you don't have somebody strong enough to be independent from the city hall and the general manager it's a problem," said Francoeur.
Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux ordered an internal report to investigate what was going on in the SPVM.
That 96-page report blamed Pichet for not taking care of internal affairs in the force despite reports that investigators were turning a blind eye to potentially criminal behavour by officers, including fabricating evidence.
“The internal affairs division, all too often, became the instrument for the promotion of certain police officers who were in the right group, and for the demotion and the humiliation of those in the wrong group,” said Alex Norris, chair of the city’s public security commission.
Pichet is being blamed for overlooking serious breaches, notably in October when the SQ conducted a raid on SPVM offices, looking for evidence that Pichet's right-hand man Imad Sawaya mishandled funds.
Pichet continued to defend him at the time, saying, “From what I know everything was fine about that file.”
The police brotherhood, which represents the city's 4200 officers, says pichet had lost all moral authority to lead the force. And feels public security minister martin coiteux did the right thing by replacing him temporarly by sq director martin prud'homme
Several critics have argued that Pichet should have been replaced by a non-police officer, instead of having the head of another police force take charge.
Coiteux said Prud'homme's experience leading a police force, and his lack of ties to the Montreal police department, made him suitable.
"The quality of Mr. Prud'homme, the experience that he has, his demonstrated capacity to lead major changes in a major organization such as the SQ make him the best candidate possible to do that job," said Coiteux.
The official opposition at city hall said they'll push for a civilian after Prud'homme's one-year mandate comes to an end.
“We believe it should be someone who comes from the civil world to be able to eliminate all these situations of rivalry, of clans and to make a fresh start,” said opposition leader Lionel Perez.
Pichet has so far not spoken to the media, having cancelled a news conference that was planned for Wednesday afternoon.
Prud'homme has also not spoken out since his appointment.