Race relations group wants to know if new police chief has experience with diverse community
Published Friday, November 9, 2018 6:59PM EST
Last Updated Friday, November 9, 2018 7:12PM EST
The man set to become Montreal's next police chief made his first appearance Friday in a hearing meant to signal new transparency from the force.
Sylvain Caron went before Montreal’s public safety commission as the city opened the hearings for the first time to all citizens.
There weren’t, however, many questions from the public, because only about 15 people participated.
Questions posed to Caron were on a range of topics from transparency to racial profiling to mental health.
Caron gave general answers but indicated that he was open to possibly allowing police disciplinary hearings to take place in front of the public.
Caron was with the Sorel-Tracy police force for 21 years, including 15 years as police chief. He also served as the former assistant director of the SQ before joining the Montreal police as head of the criminal investigations wing.
Interim Montreal police chief Martin Prud’homme nominated Caron, along with one other nominee, for the position after Prud’homme was tasked with looking into the internal dissension within different units of the Montreal police force.
Caron was selected earlier this week as the city’s pick to take over the job.
Caron said people inside the force are learning how to work together as one, with unit managers being promoted in a more transparent process.
“The SPVM must regain its reputation,” said Caron, who added that when he did his police training in Ahuntsic, he knew then that the Montreal police was a great police force. “It will be again in a few years,” he said.
Criticisms from race-relations group
Fo Niemi from the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations attended the hearing and said he has some concerns about the city’s nominee.
He said he would like to know whether Caron has concrete experience policing a community as diverse as Montreal.
Niemi was critical of how quickly the hearing was called; Caron was only nominated two days ago, and many community groups were not aware of it.
“It seems there's not one word of English used during the entire process today. Again, it explains this kind of rush that reflects perhaps a lack of transparency, a lack of desire to ensure true participation among the very community most interested in or affected by policing minority communities, indigenous communities, English-speaking communities were completely absent today from this process. I think we should have to ask the question, ‘What's the rush and why is the rush?’” said Niemi.
The public safety commission will meet to decide if it will support Caron's nomination. If approved, the public security minister will then have to agree before Caron officially takes over the role.