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Canada Valérie Plante pledges to spend $110 million more on public security

01:25  26 september  2021
01:25  26 september  2021 Source:   montrealgazette.com

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Incumbent mayor Valérie Plante speaks at a press conference to announce her plan for public security in Montreal on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. © Provided by The Gazette Incumbent mayor Valérie Plante speaks at a press conference to announce her plan for public security in Montreal on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

Amid a major increase in gun violence in Montreal, incumbent mayor Valérie Plante said the safety of Montrealers is a top priority for her and that’s why she is pledging to spend, if re-elected, an additional $110 million for public security. The announcement was made at Projet Montréal’s headquarters downtown Saturday afternoon.

The plan is designed to fight armed violence, but much of the money is earmarked for programs set up to deal with psycho-social issues. The $110 million will be doled out over the next four years if Plante’s Projet Montréal administration is returned to power.

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Fifteen million dollars will be invested to deploy mediation and social intervention teams in all of the boroughs via l’Équipe mobile de médiation et d’intervention sociale (ÉMMIS). This an all-civilian team that has been created to deal with crisis situations, people in distress and for situations involving society’s most vulnerable people. There is already a pilot program in the Ville-Marie borough. But with this new funding, it will become a program in action 24/7 in all of the city’s boroughs.

The project will also encourage police officers to stay for at least three years in the same police station in order to try to improve relations between the officers and the community. Another $15 million will be used to support mixed patrols, meaning patrols that include police officers and non-police personnel.

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At the press conference, Plante admitted violent activity is on the rise in Montreal and she blamed this partly on the growth of new criminal groups, saying this has become a growing issue during the pandemic. She noted there have been more than 100 incidents involving gun violence in Montreal so far this year.

On Saturday morning, a 19-year-old man died from gunshot wounds, in what police say is the 22nd homicide in Montreal of the year.

“Fifty per cent of these events are related to criminal groups and it’s way too much,” Plante said. “The pandemic appears to have created new types of criminal groups.”

She said Toronto has had more than 300 armed incidents since the beginning of the year and said Chicago had 50 in only one weekend recently.

“We want to make sure people feel safe,” Plante said.

But she also called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to follow through on his campaign promise and tighten control at the border to try to stop the flow of illegal arms into Canada.

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On Friday, Minister of Public Security Geneviève Guilbault announced the Quebec government would be spending about $90 million to hire about 100 police officers and experts to combat gun violence.

“To say that Montreal is dangerous is to give up,” Plante said. “That’s minimizing the work of the SPVM.”

Last month, Plante announced her administration would be giving an additional $5.5 million to the SPVM to fight gun violence, allowing the police to hire 42 new officers and civilian employees.

“It’s Denis Coderre who cut the budget of the SPVM, not Projet Montréal,” Plante said.

Coderre’s Ensemble Montréal party quickly reacted to the announcement.

“Valérie Plante has, over and over again, shown her lack of leadership in the area of public security,” said Abdelhaq Sari, the opposition party’s spokesperson for public security matters, in a statement. “After months of inaction and a refusal to increase the funding for the police, now Valérie Plante is calling for action in what is clearly an electoral move. Remember that the Police Fraternity virulently criticized the major for her improvisational approach. On our part, Ensemble Montréal promises sane management, a promise to increase the police workforce, and a promise to neither defund nor disarm the police.”

Plante said she does not support the notion of defunding the police.

bkelly@postmedia.com

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