NEWS

Montreal police chief admits officers made mistakes during August protest

12/08/2014 05:49 EST | Updated 02/07/2015 05:59 EST
Montreal police Chief Marc Parent admits his officers made mistakes during a noisy protest that got out of hand last summer in the council chamber of Montreal’s city hall.

Hundreds protest against Bill 3 outside Montreal City Hall

“There was a lack of coordination of action,” Parent said Monday at the city’s public security commission. Parent presented a 24-page report that looked into the incident.

On Aug. 18, hundreds of city workers — many of them firefighters — stormed city hall in protest against the province’s proposed reforms to the pension plans of municipal employees.

The protest began outside, but minutes later, demonstrators forced their way into council chambers, throwing paper and jostling city councillors.

No one was arrested, but dozens face criminal charges and six firefighters lost their jobs.

Parent admitted his officers should have intervened, saying that it was a breakdown in communications that allowed the protest to get out of hand.

Parent said the department has learned from its mistakes.  

“I can tell you since then, we have had many demonstrations and we [had a] different approach. We have more managers in the field and also we changed our approach with all the demonstrations.”

When asked whether officers didn’t respond promptly that day because they may have sympathized with the protesters’ cause, Parent said that was not the case.

He said eight officers, including four commanders, are facing disciplinary measures for what happened that night.

“They are in the middle of the process now for misconduct and also lack of decision in their duties,” Parent said.

The four commanders have been suspended for up to a month for not giving orders to intervene, while the four officers who will be disciplined have not had their punishment determined yet.

Montreal police officers have been wearing red baseball caps and camouflage pants instead of their full uniform in protest against the pension reform Bill 3.

Anie Samson, the head of Montreal’s public security commission, said she's satisfied with Parent's report.

“The people that were in the protest [did] things that, today, they have to pay for. We learned [what went wrong], what we can do better and we learned from that. So for me, hopefully, nothing [ever] happens like the 18th of August,” Samson said.

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