Quebec non-committal on recommendation to merge smaller police forces

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Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault reacted Wednesday to a report recommending 138 ways Quebec should modernize its police forces. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC - image credit)
Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault reacted Wednesday to a report recommending 138 ways Quebec should modernize its police forces. (Sylvain Roy Roussel/CBC - image credit)

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault says she won't commit to reducing the number of police forces in Quebec, nor fold the anti-corruption unit into a larger unit to fight cybercrime.

Those were the two major recommendations to improve policing in Quebec released Tuesday.

The committee, which Guilbault formed in December 2019, published its report and 138 recommendations on how to modernize policing in Quebec yesterday.

It proposed integrating the province's anti-corruption unit, UPAC, into a new unit, specialized in cyber and financial crimes.

Guilbault says she has already made some changes to help UPAC get better results and counter the lack of trust among the population.

"We are not closing the door on the possibility of having, someday, this kind of big unit … Never say never, but for now UPAC will remain as it is."

In its report, the committee also recommended consolidating the number of police forces in Quebec from 31 to 13.

Guilbault says she'll take time to study the recommendations.

She said she believes cutting the number of police forces by more than half would be a significant change and would require further discussion.

Another recommendation was to improve the sharing of information between police forces and other government agencies to improve the handling of issues such as domestic violence.

Guilbault said she agreed and that initiatives to do so were already in the works. She also said several police forces were working on ways to partner with public health resources to find new ways to intervene in situations that aren't public security matters, including mental health crises and domestic violence cases.

As for the committee's recommendation that police forces have clear strategies to recruit officers from under-represented communities, Guilbault said many initiatives are already underway but made no mention of the report's recommendation that recruits from those communities be offered free tuition at the police academy in Nicolet.

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