(Quebec) The guidelines provided by the government to frame police stops could be “potentially politicized”.
The Association of Quebec Police Directors (ADPQ) expressed its fears on Wednesday about Bill 14, currently under consideration, which would threaten the independence of law enforcement.
In an article of this legislative text, the government wants in fact to regulate police arrests with guidelines yet to be defined, following a judgment handed down in October by the Superior Court, which condemns this type of intervention in the associating it with “racial profiling”.
“We would get into investigations or police operations by dictating to directors and police services how to do things, that’s my concern,” the senior police officer told Public Security Minister François Bonnardel .
He fears that a minister will intervene according to the headlines of the moment.
“Depending on media pressure or media crisis, some governments may be tempted to implement actions through guidelines. »
Mr. Brochet referred to the student crisis of 2012, when the government of the day was under pressure.
“Would the government then have been tempted to give guidelines to the police to calm things down? »
Or, if a dramatic incident occurs where the police use force, the government could be tempted to ban the method used, without analysis or study.
The APDQ also wants to keep the police arrests. The organization argues that 40% to 60% of impaired driving arrests are made thanks to section 636 of the Highway Safety Code, which allows the officer to authorize that “the driver of a road vehicle immobilizes his vehicle”. It is this article that Justice Michel Yergeau of the Superior Court invalidated in October, a decision that Quebec is appealing.
Moreover, with regard to the random arrest of pedestrians, the ADPQ maintains that this practice is already impossible.
The arrest cannot be random, because a police officer must have “reasons” and “suspicions” to act, argued Mr. Brochet.
However, the ADPQ admitted that eventual guidelines could help end racial profiling.
“That would be a big step forward,” the association president concluded.
However, on Tuesday, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) argued that a law will not be enough to put an end to racial profiling.
The union of police officers of the City of Montreal, for its part, warned Minister François Bonnardel against an overly strict framework of guidelines which would compromise the safety of the population and the fight against street gangs.
Remember that last October, Judge Yergeau ordered an end to random interceptions, because they do indeed give rise to racial profiling and because the violation of the rights of those who are victims of it is no longer tolerable.
The judge concluded that police forces will not be able to eliminate profiling if they are not prevented from arresting anyone at any time.
After evidence showing that “black people are at least twice as likely to be stopped as white people”, the judge concluded that “racial profiling does exist” and that it is “a reality that weighs heavily on black communities”.
In addition, the magistrate felt that he had not been shown that random arrests made it possible to improve the road safety record.