The deconfinement is felt in the interventions of the police after almost three months of patrolling the deserted streets of Longueuil. Between a baffle of neighbors, a lost child and young people suspected of theft, the agents also deal with tensions rekindled by the George Floyd case in the United States.
It is around 6.30 p.m .: Marie-Josée Roy and Antoine Laliberté start their shift. The police are no exception: before entering and leaving the station, you must go through all the disinfection stages ranging from hand washing to cleaning each piece of their equipment. The duo allowed the Duty to follow them during their interventions in the streets of the South Shore (Montreal). “We don’t have to wear the mask, so we decided not to put it on, except when it’s COVID-19 calls,” said Constable Roy.
The first call comes quickly. A man finds himself unconscious in front of a “Chez Lise” building. “It’s a rooming house where tenants have mental health issues,” she says, as we head to the address. Police are used to going there several times a week, and sometimes several times in the same day.
When we arrived, the man seemed to be asleep outside the door of the building. Around him, numerous tools and a package of raw, half-unwrapped ground chicken strew the ground. “Have you eaten this?” Asks Agent Roy. “Uh, no, I don’t know,” replied the man in his fifties. Paramedics also arrive, but the man will refuse to be transported to the hospital.
Nearby, other roomers observe what is happening, one of them even started to film the scene. “It’s part of the job now,” said agent Laliberté, once the intervention was over. “We are getting used to seeing people who have nothing to do with the intervention filming us. It wasn’t that bad, they were filming us from afar, but there are some who almost put your phone in your face, they provoke you, “he said. During the evening, the patrol officers will be filmed on another occasion, during the nine interventions attended The duty.
“With what has happened in the United States, there are sure to be some who are quick to respond. It has happened to us at least twice that people have made direct reference to it, “said Constable Roy. “I always take the trouble to remind them of the purpose of my interceptions, to discuss because sometimes there are those who feel persecuted, they think it is because they are black, Latino or Asian, while it is not the color of their skin that motivates an intervention. “
With increasingly multicultural neighborhoods and more mental health issues, the police believe that it is necessary to review their approach. “There are colleagues who have a more repressive approach,” said agent Laliberté. They feel they have a job to do and may not take the time to chat with the person and that’s legit. This is another way of working, “said agent Laliberté.
“We are going to have a more human approach. The police are no longer like 15 or 20 years ago, we are really more and more in a helping relationship than in repression, “added his colleague.
Racial tensions seen from Homework
At around 8:30 p.m., the patrol officers will meet a man who called 911 twice that evening to report that his neighbor is constantly filming his actions.
“As soon as I leave my house, the gentleman you see there, he insults me and films me; I told him it’s forbidden to film me and he continued, ”said a man in his twenties, who seems to be of Arab origin, pointing to one of his neighbors on the front balcony of his apartment. Beside him, about five other friends are present at the intervention. “Leave the camera, leave the camera”, we hear quickly. Ironically, one of them wants to capture images. “It is to show your interventions that you come directly to certain people. It’s still a bit of economic and racial profiling, “says the young man to the duo who remains imperturbable.
On the second floor, the police then meet the neighbors affected by the complaint. “They are the problem. From 10:20 pm every night until 4:00 am they make noise and prevent us from sleeping, “said one of the four tenants. “Earlier he went out and threw a piece of paper on the ground, I told him to pick it up and he asked me if I wanted to fight. This is where I told my brother to save it, “said the other tenant. “I’m not a racist, but they have no respect,” he says.
The patrol officers leave after having explained to the two camps that, if they have complaints, it is more their owner who should be called. “He told us to call the police,” said one of them.
The duo hit the road for another call concerning a chicane between neighbors. “Night noise. We are talking about noise from tables and chairs and from children running. The complainant does not want to be met when the police are on site, “Constable Roy reads aloud. “He said ‘they are Arabs’,” she said.
“The majority of interventions that are made are following a call. We have no choice but to knock on doors, to go and check, but sometimes it can be perceived as if we were aiming [une communauté], but what people don’t always know is that neighbors are calling, “said agent Laliberté.
“And if the person takes the trouble to clarify that, it translates say the perception of the complainant, but it is not ours,” said Constable Roy.