Police chief says it could take up to 10 years to clean up force

Police chief says it could take up to 10 years to clean up force

Montreal’s police chief said Friday it could take between five and ten years to bring about a change to the internal culture within the embattled force.

Philippe Pichet presented his plan to restore public confidence in Montreal law enforcement, which has been plagued by allegations of corruption and wrongdoing within its ranks in recent months.

The report he presented to Montreal municipal officials includes nearly 40 recommendations addressing a wide array of issues.

“Despite the difficulties we’re living with and the issues we have in terms of investigations and internal affairs, the police force is continuing to move forward, working to give citizens a better service with a concrete plan,” Pichet said.

“As a police force, we know where we’re going and we’re taking responsibility.”

In an effort to tackle allegations that the force is split into factions, Pichet recommended that senior officers be centralized in one office.

The police chief also recommended revising the force’s code of ethics, and said the internal affairs division will undergo a complete review.

The province said last month it was broadening its investigation into the allegations after receiving new information that suggested there were “systemic issues,” particularly with the force’s internal investigations practices.

That announcement came days after two former organized crime investigators with the Montreal police alleged members of the force’s internal affairs department embellish or fabricate evidence against lower-ranking officers who fall out of favour.

An administrative probe into the allegations is also in the works.

Pichet says while public confidence has been shaken by recent revelations about internal strife and allegations of criminal acts, he’s confident the measures will help and noted that some have already been implemented despite some resistance.

Pichet said a decade might be necessary given the size of the force, but added he’s looking at more of a five-year plan.

For his part, Premier Philippe Couillard said he wasn’t surprised by the time frame.

“What I understand from the Montreal police chief is that he wants to change the culture of police force,” Couillard told reporters at a funding announcement in Dolbeau-Mistassini.

“Changing a culture isn’t done by decree or law or in an arbitrary fashion.”

Last weekend, Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux and Mayor Denis Coderre said they were satisfied with the report after having consulted it.

It was Coiteux who’d ordered Pichet present a detailed report last month.

“Changing the culture of a large organization like that doesn’t happen overnight, but action needs to be taken right away,” Couillard said Friday.

The Canadian Press


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