Do local station closings put SPVM’s neighbourhood policing at risk?

Martin C. Barry
Although the SPVM’s Station 33 on Beaumont Ave., which serves Park Extension, isn’t slated to close soon, the closing of Station 11 in Notre Dame de Grâce has started the rumour mill rolling about PDQ closures elsewhere in Montreal.

Despite the looming closure of the SPVM’s PDQ 11 in NDG and rumours of reduced neighbourhood policing in other districts of Montreal, Park Extension councillor Mary Deros says she’s heard nothing to suggest PDQ 33 on Beaumont Ave. is closing, while admitting that the Montreal Police don’t usually give advance notice of their plans.

‘Nothing official’

While police department administrators maintain that closing Station 11 will lead to improved policing in NDG overall, a storm of protest has broken out in that western Montreal community over the controversial plan to merge Station 11 with Station 9.
As for the future of Station 33, Deros said she had heard “nothing official” lately, although she recalled that the police department tried around eight years ago to increase the capacity of Station 31 on Saint Laurent Blvd. in Jarry Park by merging it with Station 33.

‘Anything is possible’

Asked whether she was concerned about the possibility of Station 33’s capacity to serve Park Extension being compromised as part of the Montreal Police’s consolidation plans, Deros replied, “Anything is possible, but nothing official has been announced. Not to our borough. Not to me.”
According to Deros, there was some talk eight years or so ago about erecting a building at a yet to be determined site that will be large enough to accommodate a future SPVM neighbourhood station combining PDQs 31 and 33.

Police independent

“But again, this has never gone beyond talk,” she said. “And nothing concrete has been announced. Not even in pre-planning of anything. But there was talk this at least eight years ago, although nothing has come up again.”
Deros wasn’t surprised that the rumour mill has been turning with regards to the future of neighbourhood policing services in many areas of Montreal, given the Montreal Police’s tendency to act, while hardly consulting residents or elected officials.
“The police department works independently,” she said, noting that PDQ 33’s last move from Park Ave. to its current location on Beaumont was done quickly and without much notice given to anyone outside the police department. “It was done quick-quick in the summer and it was a fait accompli by the fall,” said Deros.

Close to the people

While maintaining that the police force is supposed to be answerable on major decisions to Montreal city council, Deros suggested the police should still be consulting with elected officials and the citizenry on all decisions that stand to have an impact on the community.
“We are close to the people,” she said regarding the role of city councillors. “And citizens need to be consulted because these things affect their sense of security.”
Asked whether she believes a permanently-based police presence is still necessary in Park Extension, Deros said, “Unless they offer something and they can prove that the move or the decision that they will take will give more security for my citizens, I believe that it’s better for them to be there.

How decisions are made

“But then, we can also talk about it,” she went on. “This is how decisions should be made. Give me the right tools, give me the right reasons: if they propose to move, I need to know why. I need to know how it’s going to help the area. Will I have more cruisers or more police in the territory? I mean, there’s a whole lot of questions that need to be answered.
“And, after that, once we know all the reasons and all the advantages or disadvantages, then we can make a good decision. The right decision. But to have a decision imposed by a couple of bureaucrats that are not from the area and don’t see the reality of things, I don’t believe is the right way to go about things.”