Barely 98 of Montreal’s 4,727 police officers carried out a shooting practice last year, while the shooting crisis is in full swing in the metropolis.
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Alerted by several sources to the increasingly low number of police officers exercising with their firearms, our Investigation Office obtained precise data from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM).
We learn that barely 2% of police officers practiced shooting in 2021, but also that this number has dropped significantly over the last decade (see below).
“We are not able to release police officers to practice. We operate continuously with a minimum staff. If they want to shoot, they have to do it on their own time,” says a source well aware of the problem within the SPVM, who wished to remain anonymous because she is not authorized to speak to the media.
“It doesn’t make sense, they are already exhausted from the work overload,” adds this source.
The shortage of personnel and the difficulties of hiring in the Montreal police are notorious for a few years.
“The SPVM police officers are not ready to be involved in a shooting,” another police source, a specialist in the use of firearms, told us.
“In a high-stress situation, the police fire 5 out of 6 bullets, and we never talk about that. They should practice at least three times a year to develop good decision-making, but shooting practices are too expensive in terms of human time and equipment, ”continues this second source.
Photo archives, Martin Alarie
On August 4, SPVM police killed a man suspected of having committed three random murders in the previous days.
Meanwhile, the number of interventions by Montreal police officers in the presence of an armed person (firearm or other) continues to increase. It stood at 266 in 2021, compared to 156 in 2015.
A coroner was worried
The lack of marksmanship training of police officers was already attracting attention a decade ago.
In an October 2012 report following the death of a homeless man shot dead by an SPVM police officer during an intervention, coroner Jean Brochu raised serious concerns.
He had underlined that “the issues of shooting training […] police represent a situation requiring significant and rapid improvement”.
It turns out that the number of police officers who practice has not only not increased, but has decreased considerably.
In addition to the practices they can perform, all police officers have a legal obligation to renew their marksmanship qualification once a year. They must then shoot 50 balls at a target as part of a timed course.
Approximately 82% of SPVM police officers obtained this qualification in 2021.
But as one of our law enforcement sources points out, “shooting in an annual qualification in a shooting range and shooting in a high-risk situation are two different things.” Hence the importance, according to this source, of practicing regularly.
♦ Do you have information on what is happening within the SPVM? Contact me confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 514 212-3937.
NUMBER OF POLICE OFFICERS WHO HAVE PRACTICED ONCE A YEAR
- 2021* : 98 of 4727
- 2020: 260 of 4677
- 2019: 168 of 4723
- 2018: 175 of 4732
- 2017: 372 of 4789
- 2016: 410 of 4674
- 2015 : 247 of 4831
*Only 2 officers practiced more than once in 2021
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS WHERE POLICE HAD TO FACE THE PRESENCE OF A WEAPON
- 2021: 266
- 2020: 228
- 2019: 234
- 2018: 213
- 2017: 207
- 2016: 149
- 2015 : 156