In the face of repeated criticism against local and regional police forces, Quebec’s Police Chiefs’ Association is taking on a new strategy in public outreach aimed at improving its image.
“I think there’s a lack of love by the population towards the police officers,” said the association’s director Didier Deramond.
As part of that campaign, the association has released the first of a series of videos depicting professional police work.
The video, posted on Wednesday, depicts a series of interviews with officers and the subject of a police intervention. In their testimonies, they describe approaching the subject, who was armed, and talking to him down.
“We are the first people to intervene on the scene,” said Jean-Patrick Gobeil, an officer with the Trois-Rivieres police force, in the video. “We find the person in a state of crisis, at the peak of their crisis.”
“What we see in social media, or everywhere else, are the actions or the interventions that went sour or (when) there’s a problem,” Daramond told CTV.
“But 99 per cent of the time, I think, where the police officers are doing an excellent service to the population, we don’t talk about it.”
Daramond says enrollment in police technology training programs is down. Retired Montreal officer Andre Durocher says some Quebec police forces are having trouble retaining staff amid widespread high levels of stress.
“We’re seeing a lot of people who have been with police only a couple of years and decide to leave because there’s a lot of pressure,” he said.
Fo Niemi, executive director of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations, says the promotional campaign is a good first step in restoring public trust in officers.
“As a person who is often a fierce critic of many police misconducts, I must be the first to say that we need to humanize the police profession,” he said.
“Hopefully this video campaign will be followed by more grassroots community relations and more cooperation on the ground at the neighborhood level where people are.”
The police chiefs’ association will release one video per month over the next year.