Upset over budget cuts, the Montreal Police Brotherhood took a shot at the SPVM recently by acknowledging the existence of daily traffic ticket quotas; a system the department’s brass continues to insist does not exist.
Yves Francoeur, head of the Fraternité des policiers et des policières de Montréal (FPPM), told The Métropolitain that the most the SPVM will admit to is a daily “average,” maybe even an objective – but not a fixed quota. He said they’re getting caught up in semantics and aren’t being up front about the quota system.
“It’s clear: In the traffic department, there’s a quota of 18 tickets per day,” Francoeur said. “If they’re out patrolling and doing their job, they have to give 18 tickets.”
As head of the union representing Montreal police officers, Francoeur said his information comes from reliable sources. The commander of one traffic division in the city told him that the daily quota could reach as high as 28 tickets. Officers who didn’t bring in the desired take, the commander told Francoeur, would be at risk of being demoted.
No senior SPVM officials were available for comment, but one commander who does not deal directly with traffic squads told The Métropolitain that the department’s stance continues to be that no quota systems exist. Claude Dauphin, the Montreal executive committee member in charge of public security, could not confirm Francoeur’s statements about the quotas, nor could he categorically deny their existence either.
“The information I have from the police department is that there are no quotas,” Dauphin said. “At the end of the year, they do an average and that average last year was 18 per day.”
Dauphin said his information comes from the office of SPVM Chief Yvan Delorme. Dauphin’s role as an elected representative, he explained, is to provide the department with general guidelines and not to get involved in day-to-day operational decisions.
“It’s true that we’re issuing more tickets. If I said we weren’t, nobody would believe me,” Dauphin said. “It’s not a tax grab. It’s a way of improving public safety.”
The traffic squad was abolished in 1997 and brought back by the Tremblay administration in 2006. In the last three years, they have proven to be valuable to the city both in terms of added revenue and, Dauphin said, in helping to make streets safer. From 2007 to 2008, recently-released SPVM statistics show there were 40 per cent less road injuries and 13 per cent fewer deaths. The data collected so far this year purportedly paints an even rosier picture.
In light of the department’s recent successes, Francoeur is puzzled as to why nearly $14 million must be slashed from their budget. That means fewer resources for expensive policing, like investigations, and potentially a greater emphasis on revenue-generating operations like the traffic squad. The cuts are once again creating friction between the union and the city, just as pressure tactics, like the wearing of pastel-coloured camouflage pants by officers, were done away in the spirit of cooperation. In arbitration, the two sides agreed to sign a collective agreement by year’s end.
“It will be absolutely impossible to give the same level of security,” Francoeur said. “We don’t want City Hall ordering the police department to bring in more revenue.”