Police walking “thin line” in Montreal North

Par P.A. Sévigny le 4 septembre 2008

Only days after the shooting of Freddy Villanueva and the ensuing riot that ripped through the streets of Montreal North, SPVM Police Chief Yvan Delorme said the city’s police were doing everything possible to re-establish law, order and “a sense of security” in the district.

“It’s difficult,” said Delorme. “The police always know how there’s only a thin line between prevention and repression.”

Over the past week, Delorme said his officers met with all of the district’s political representatives, all of its community leaders and several of its community activists in order to re-establish some kind of communication between the area’s residents and the police. In addition to the SPVM’s public relations offensive, Delorme also sent reinforcements to police the area, including a number of experienced officers with several years of service in the city’s ‘zones chaudes’-its hot zones.

After  weeks of bad press and a number of accusations as to how the police were unable to control the events in Montreal North, Delorme said 35 arrests have already been made “…and there were more to come.” Many of the arrests were based upon assorted pictures the police took during the riot and later posted on the SPVM’s web site. While police say much of the damage done during the riot was the result of ‘criminal opportunities’, police authorities also believe more than a few of the city’s ‘usual suspects’ used the riot to inflict their own particular brand of mayhem.

“A lot of factors contributed to this situation,” said Delorme. “As bad as it seems, things could have been a lot worse.”

After he mentioned how much he admired the courage and fortitude displayed by the police during the riot, he also congratulated them for the their discipline even as they were being confronted with a tense and potentially explosive situation.

“Even after one of theirs [a policewoman] had been shot,” he said, “they avoided any kind of provocation which would have only made matters worse.”

Even after Delorme said he would have to wait for the results of the SQ (Sureté du Québec) investigation into the Villanueva shooting before he could make any comment, he also told the city’s media there were no quick and easy solutions to the kind of problems the SPVM had to face in Montreal North. Even so, he ordered his police force to make a special effort to reach out to the community and try to work with the community to solve its problems.

“We can’t do it alone,” he said. “The community’s representatives, its schools, its organizations and even the parents all have their place if we want to solve the community’s problems.”

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