'It is still fragile': Quebec makes public report on restructuring of SPVM

One year after taking over as interim chief of the Montreal police service, Martin Prud'homme prepares to return to the SQ fold, but not before making several recommendations, including who should replace him.

Interim SPVM Chief Martin Prud'homme recommends who should replace him as he prepares to return to SQ fold

Quebec Minister of Public Safety Geneviève Guilbault says the Montreal police service is on the 'right track,' a year after Martin Prud'homme took over and began restructuring it. (Radio-Canada)

One year after taking over as interim chief of the Montreal police service, Martin Prud'homme says much has been fixed or is in the process of being fixed.

In a report made public by the Quebec government Tuesday, Prud'homme says a new SPVM administration can be established in a much improved work climate.

However, he warns, "the balance remains fragile," and he advises the city and the government to opt for "prudence, stability and continuity" when choosing a new police chief.

In a Tuesday news conference, Quebec's Minister of Public Safety Geneviève Guilbault said Prud'homme's report is a positive step forward. 

"A lot of work has been done," she said, although she noted that after only a year of restructuring, there's more to do.

"We feel the police service is on the right track now," 

Guilbault said making Prud'homme's final report public should help restore confidence in Montreal's police.

"People will be able to read it and see what really happened and what has been done in the last year," she said. "I think what we are reading today in the final report is encouraging for the SPVM."

Looking forward, she said she agrees with Prud'homme's assertion that the police force now needs continuity and stability.

SPVM restructuring began one year ago

Prud'homme was appointed as interim chief by former Liberal public security minister Martin Coiteux following the suspension of former chief Philippe Pichet.

Sûreté du Québec Chief Martin Prud'homme took over as both the interim chief and temporary administrator of the Montreal police for a one-year mandate that ends in December. (Radio-Canada)
Pichet was suspended following a report by Quebec's former deputy justice minister, Michel Bouchard, which highlighted the need to put "an end to a climate of tension and suspicion that has developed within the SPVM."

In the report he presented at that time, Bouchard reported having discovered several irregularities after a review of more than 1,000 cases filed with the SPVM's internal affairs division from 2010 to 2017.

Pichet was appointed in the summer of 2015 following a recommendation by former mayor Denis Coderre.

Among his recent findings, Prud'homme discovered that 251 of Montreal's 753 police investigators still need to obtain the specific diploma required by law. A two-year action plan should enable them to catch up, he says.

'Judicious follow-up': Valérie Plante

Prud'homme will officially leave his post at the SPVM at the end of December to return to his position as director of provincial police, the Sûreté du Québec, in January.

A new chief will be selected with Prud'homme's recommendations in mind, Guilbault said.

Among those recommendations, Prud'homme said the new chief should be appointed for no more than five years  — enough time to train senior executives internally and complete the restructuring of the department.

Though he does not mention anybody by name, he suggests picking a member of the current steering committee "with the specific purpose of continuing and consolidating the work of the provisional administration."

Of the four members of the committee, Prud'homme suggests choosing one of the two assistant directors who come from outside the SPVM, "in order to minimize the impacts on the organization."

Guilbault said she endorses that recommendation.

The two assistant directors are Line Carbonneau and Sylvain Caron, both appointed to assist Prud'homme at the end of 2017.

Sylvain Caron or Line Carbonneau, experienced police administrators who have served on the interim SPVM head's steering committee for the past year, are the candidates Martin Prud'homme recommends to replace him. (Courtesy SPVM)

Carbonneau retired from her position as deputy commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2012 after 37 years of service. 

Caron, a former deputy director general of the SQ, recently retired after 36 years in the provincial police force.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante says she'll bring together a selection committee for the new SPVM head, but the job will probably go to Carbonneau or Caron.

"We will do a judicious follow-up on this report with the new person who will take the helm of the organization," Plante said. 

With files from Radio-Canada


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