City Hall is asking Montreal’s police department to look into ways it might generate additional revenue for the city by expanding its services for hire, Radio-Canada has revealed.
Montreal’s police department already gets around one per cent of its budget from contracts like traffic duty for film and commercial shoots.
The City of Montreal, however, would like to emulate examples like Toronto, whose police department gets about four per cent of its budget from sources other than the city’s taxpayers.
That was the conclusion of a report issued last February by Montreal’s public security commission.
However, the commission’s chair Anie Samson has yet to elaborate on the recommendation, which the city wants the police department to explore in more detail for its 2015 budget.
In 2013, contractors of Montreal's police department services included:
- Quebec's Ministry of Transport: $1,419,484
- City of Montreal: $353,756
- Jacques-Cartier and Champlain Bridge Corp.: $235,989
- Quebec's Ministry for Sustainable Development, Environment, Wildlife and Parks: $214,098
- Société de développement commercial: $213,254
- Société des casinos du Québec Inc.: $187,351
- Parks Canada: $119,372
- Transelec Common Inc.: $84,703
- Revenue Quebec: $72,106
- Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc.: $61,549
- Hydro-Québec: $52,576
No 'rent-a-cop' model
Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière told CBC News that his department was looking into options, but that it wouldn’t be a “rent-a-cop” kind of thing.
"You got a house, and you don't want anyone to steal from your house, or you got a wedding, or you're late for the airport, and you need a ride, you need someone to escort you faster to the airport - and believe me we get numerous requests each year to get that — it's not going to happen," Lafrenière said.
The idea of expanding the amount of contract work performed by Montreal’s police department has some concerned.
Retired police officer Guy Ryan told Radio-Canada that it’s important that the city think the proposal through carefully in order to avoid developing a two-tiered policing system.
“It puts the police in a precarious situation,” he said.
Montreal’s police union spokesman Martin Desrochers echoed Ryan’s concern.
“A police force should never be a commercial enterprise… and to this end, there are certain lines we must never cross,” he said in a written statement to CBC News.
Those lines include the fact that crime fighting should never be affected, and police should exercise extreme caution in terms of who they do business with.
In an interview with Radio-Canada, the head of support services for Montreal’s police department, Didier Deramond, said officers policing such contracts work outside their normally scheduled hours for the city.
“They are not on city duty, and they are paid by the client,” he said.
Officers on contract are entitled to wear their Montreal police uniform and carry their gun. They can also issue tickets.
Ryan contends that it should be made clear when police are working for clients other than the city.