Montreal police take steps to be more transparent

Police Chief Philippe Pichet released a 38-point action plan aimed at improving citizen confidence in the police service. Projet Montréal's Alex Norris says the plan fails to address concerns about political influence.

Action plan released as inquiries into police internal affairs, surveillance of journalists continue

Montreal Police Chief Philippe Pichet admits there are some areas in which the SPVM still needs to improve to become more transparent and gain the confidence of citizens. (CBC)

Montreal Police Chief Philippe Pichet released a 38-point action plan today, aimed at improving citizen confidence in the police service and bolstering transparency.

Among the measures it's taking, the SPVM has hired Thierry Pauchant, who holds the chair in ethics management at HEC Montréal, to act as a consultant on ethical issues.

Pichet admitted that the police service still has a number of issues to work on, but he said "we are better than we were at the beginning [of the year]."

Opposition Projet Montréal councillor Alex Norris told CBC following the announcement that the SPVM is taking some positive steps, but that the action plan fails to address the issue of political interference.

"We've seen that Mayor [Denis] Coderre hasn't hesitated to call the chief of police on at least two occasions, that we're aware of, concerning issues that concern him personally. We believe that such calls are inappropriate, given the amount of power that the mayor wields."

Norris, who sits on the city's civilian police oversight committee, said something needs to be done to better separate the two bodies.

"I'm very aware of the perception that people can have," Pichet told reporters at the Friday news conference. "But let me tell you once again, I'm independent regarding the operation and the investigation."

Two inquiries are currently underway relating to goings-on in the police service: one concerning the integrity of the SPVM's internal affairs division, the other, the Chamberland commission, is looking into the case of police surveillance of journalists in Quebec.

The results of both inquiries are not expected to be released until after the Nov. 5 municipal election.

With files from Lauren McCallum