The repetition of violent crimes by individuals with psychiatric and criminal histories in recent months calls for a tightening of the criteria for conditional release, believe several speakers following a new drama which ended in the death of a policewoman in Louiseville, Monday.
“For me, it was a red light,” laments the president of the Professional Order of Criminologists of Quebec (OPCQ), Josée Rioux, on reading the latest decision of the Mental Disorders Commission in the place of Isaac Brouillard Lessard, dated February 2022.
This administrative tribunal was responsible for evaluating at least once a year the conditions for the release of the man shot dead Monday in Louiseville after allegedly stabbing police officer Maureen Breau.
Isaac Brouillard Lessard should have been evaluated again in the last few weeks, but his hearing could not take place due to the unavailability of his lawyer, the latter confirmed to La Presse.
Testimony from his attending psychiatrist in his most recent Commission hearing relates to an assault on the caretaker of a building around November 2021 in which he allegedly punched the man repeatedly while he was on the ground.
What is more, he had been found not criminally responsible in the past for assaulting several members of the nursing staff during his repeated hospitalizations, many facts which could suggest that a tragedy was brewing, estimates criminologist Josée Rioux.
However, without criticizing the Commission’s decision to release him under severe conditions, she wonders: was there a plan in place to deal with this violent and criminal behavior?
Ms. Rioux draws a parallel between the tragedy that occurred in Louiseville on Monday and the murder of three people in 24 hours in the Montreal area last summer, again by a young man with a psychiatric history released under conditions by the Commission of review of mental disorders1.
“What should we do to avoid situations like this?” We haven’t made a lot of progress [since this drama] to take care of people who have a mental health problem coupled with a problem of delinquency, ”underlines Josée Rioux.
With emotion in his voice, the president of the Quebec Provincial Police Association, Jacques Painchaud, called for “concrete political actions” beyond “words of sympathy”, the day after the tragedy that marked number of its members.
Without wanting to replace “committees that could come to us with fine recommendations”, he considers that Quebec has “a problem”: “we have too many repeat offenders on the loose”. “We are in the process of managing the risk that we cannot assume,” he insists in an interview.
“The impression we have is that the water is entering the liner, the police scoop, then scoop, but the water continues to come in,” said the policeman from the Sûreté du Québec, the same police force who employed the sergeant killed Monday in Louiseville.
Same story with retired supervisor of the Montreal Police Service and specialist in the judicious use of force Stéphane Wall, who recalls the murder of a police officer on duty last December in Ontario.
Indignant, the Association of Quebec Police Directors (ADPQ) had joined its voice to those of its Canadian counterparts to demand that the federal government reconsider its decision to make the release process more flexible for people charged with firearms crimes.
“We have a social problem. It is laxity and the trivialization of violence, believes Stéphane Wall. We decide to take the risk of releasing […] people who pose serious risks to society, and we release them anyway. »
Over the past decade, four other police officers have lost their lives in the course of their work in Quebec.
In Quebec, the last police officer to be killed in service before this week was Richer Dubuc, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Aged 42 and father of four children, Richer Dubuc died on March 6, 2017 following a collision between his vehicle and a farm tractor in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle. The police officer was part of the Integrated Border Police Team, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, and worked on Roxham Road, where the influx of refugees from the United States had increased significantly.
The previous year, police officer Jacques Ostigny, of the Sûreté du Québec, was going to rescue two tourists on a hiking trail on the North Shore, on September 21, 2016, when he fell ill. . Mr. Ostigny was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Officer Thierry LeRoux, barely 26 years old, was shot twice in the back during a police intervention that went wrong on February 13, 2016 in Lac-Simon, Abitibi. The drama led to changes: since then, four police officers have been on duty at all times in Lac-Simon, unlike two at the time of the death of the young police officer.
Steve Déry, of the Kativik Regional Police Force (KRPF), was killed on March 2, 2013 during an intervention in Nunavik. The police officer was only 27 years old when he succumbed to his gunshot wounds, inflicted by an individual who then killed himself.
Earlier this month, police officers Travis Jordan and Brett Ryan of the Edmonton, Alberta police were shot and killed while responding to a family dispute. The suspect, a 16-year-old boy, then turned his gun on himself. In the aftermath of the tragedy, authorities said the two officers were unaware they were about to intervene in a risky or dangerous situation. The suspect had no prior criminal record, but police had been dealing with him for calls about mental health issues.