The 33rd Precinct and the old 31st to find a new home

It has been reported that the police HQ in Park Extension that closed back in June will be finding a new home and merging with another precinct set to close in the near future, putting an end to rumors that have been circulating since June and before

A colleague of mine here at the paper first covered this story back in June when these were simply rumors churning and churning in the old mill (whether the two stations would be merging), but these plans have finally come to pass and Park Extension will finally be losing a second police HQ that has been guarding the community for many years. The building on Beaumont (precinct 33) was closed back in June, the press and the community being told that they were looking for another building.

The only other precinct that remained was precinct 31, which is on St. Laurent near Jarry Park—actually it’s located in the chalet on the Jarry Park grounds, to be specific.

What this could mean for the community

There are of course those that are considerably worried, as Park Extension is statistically one of the boroughs where the most amount of crime is reported year long, so a move of this kind could mean a hike in reported crime. At the end of the day, it’s elementary, as criminals in the area may feel that a slight lack of a police presence would mean a free for all in terms of slack. Of course, there are those that feel that just the opposite will be what will come to pass.

It was only back in 2014 that a survey conducted then revealed that over half of participants in the survey felt that there were serious issues with “incivility and drugs” in the borough and something needed to be done.

There is a lot of Police presence in the borough and this has been the goal for the neighborhood for many years. Former Commander André-Guy Lamothe stated that he wanted a stable police presence in the borough—this was back in 2007—as was reported by Park Extension News—and Lamothe followed through with that even then, having bike patrol and cruiser patrol up in the borough. “People have to know that we’re there,” Lamothe told ParK Extension News in 2007.

A location that’s no longer serving its purpose

The first precinct closed in June because of an issue with the building’s security. Since its closing, many of the police officers working out of that precinct were relocated to the aforementioned station 31 and of course station 26 on Mountain Sights. The community was also told to use these sights should they need police assistance or had any questions.

But now, a second police HQ is being taken away.

Citizens shouldn’t worry is the general consensus—patrols will be stepped up

Precinct 31 was apparently falling apart, as has been reported and the move was absolutely necessary, so said Rosannie Filato in a statement. She also stated that the plans were to donate the chalet at Jarry Park to citizens, or rather free up the space for them.

But in her statements, she also stated that patrols would be stepped up while they looked for a new location.

The new location will house both precincts

So it is official … it will be a merging of sorts, and all into a building with universal access, as Rosannie Filato stated. There is no new building as of yet, or so this is where it stands as far as the public is concerned, but Mary Deros told the press that the new station “needs to be in Park Extension.”

This has been in talks for quite some time she once said to a colleague of mine here at the paper. “But again, this has never gone beyond talk,” she told Parc-Extension News in April. “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.” There are certainly many that join her in that hope and/or vision and we hope this surely comes to pass, and at a location that can withstand the test of time in the future, but there are certainly issues that have worried many and Mary Deros about just how this decision was handled by the SPVM.

An issue with the way the SPVM has handled this decision

City Councilor, Mary Deros is disappointed that the SPVM is not alerting the public about their decisions, however. “A public consultation is necessary. Citizens deserve to be informed and not find out about such decisions from the media first,” she says.

A motion has been issued and will be discussed at an upcoming City Council meeting. Some of the reasons behind this are as follows:

  • The administration had opened the door following the merger of CDN-NDG’s PDQs to a consultation on the police coverage plan, but the merger of PDQs 31 and 33 shows that this was once again only a PR stunt from Project Montreal.
  • Citizens of the City of Montreal learned by reading the newspapers that the decision is being made by Projet Montréal: there will be a merger of PDQ 31 and 33.
  • As usual, no consultation, no upstream work. Citizens are noticed after the fact.
  • It should be a concerted decision between elected officials, citizens and the SPVM.

Opposition’s motion

The motion itself reads as follows (translated from the original French language document):

“Official Opposition Motion 65.02—City council meeting of December 14, 2020

Urgent motion calling for a moratorium followed by a public consultation on the integration of neighborhood stations

Whereas the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) unilaterally took the decision to close the neighborhood police station (PDQ) 11 of Notre-Dame-de Grâce and to merge it with PDQ 9 of Côte-Saint- Luc;

Whereas the SPVM took this decision without informing the citizens and without going through the authorities of the City of Montreal;

Whereas the SPVM has already tried in the same way to merge PDQ 45 and 49 in the Rivière-des-Prairies – Pointe-aux-Trembles borough, but it has backed down from popular pressure;

Whereas this way of doing the SPVM raises governance issues related to the accountability of decision-making, transparency and civil oversight of the SPVM;

Whereas since the reform of the police model in the 1990s by the Montreal Urban Community, the neighborhood stations have been inspired by the principles of the concept of community policing;

Whereas the concept of community policing is based in particular on the notion of geographical responsibility which consists in respecting the natural limits of the neighborhoods and in defining the profile of each neighborhood during the division of the territories of the PDQs in order to facilitate police connections and partnerships- citizens;

Whereas the administration plans to hold a public meeting of the Committee on Public Security on the Police Organization Plan, including in particular the integration plan for neighborhood stations after the decision was taken to merge the PDQ 9 and PDQ 11;

Whereas it is in the interest of Montrealers that there be a new public consultation on the coverage plan for police services;

Whereas in June 2020, the SPVM announced that the neighborhood station, 33 located on Beaumont Street, would move temporarily and in a hurry to the corner of Crémazie and Saint-Hubert streets;

Whereas during the budget study in the Finance Committee, the head of the Montreal Police Department announced that an integration of two neighborhood stations would take place in 2021, without naming them;

Whereas the media have recently informed us that the integration of stations in districts 31 and 33 is currently under discussion with the SPVM and local elected officials;

Whereas the integration of neighborhood stations 31 and 33 in the borough of Villeray – Saint-Michel – Parc-Extension could result in a loss of local service and considerably reduce access without an appointment to the police for citizens of Parc-Extension and / or Villeray;

It is proposed by Abdelhaq Sari, City Councilor of the District of Marie-Clarac;

Seconded by Francesco Miele, City Councilor for the Côte-de-Liesse district;

Mary Deros, City Councilor for the Parc-Extension district;

That the City of Montreal oppose any merger or integration of its neighborhood stations without prior citizen consultation;

That the City of Montreal impose a moratorium on the SPVM, effective immediately, on any decision to close, merge or integrate neighborhood stations, including neighborhood stations 31 and 33;

That the City of Montreal mandate, as soon as possible, the Commission sur la sécurité publique, to hold a public consultation on the Police Organization Plan in order to determine the coverage plan for police services and neighborhood stations for the agglomeration of Montréal, before making any other changes to this coverage scheme.”