Fondé en 1983 --Unis pour la diversité et l'égalité raciale


Montreal, August 9, 2012 --- A Black couple in the west-end district of Montreal has filed a civil rights complaint against the Montreal Police Service, for refusing to provide them with a police ethics complaint form at the local police station. In doing so, they may have brought a well hidden police practice out of the city’s closet and into the forefront.

After experiencing a violent police intervention in their home in the middle of the night, the couple went to the local police station to get the complaint form. However, they were turned away and treated in a dismissive manner by the officer at the desk. The reason? The station did not have the form available. Yet all pertinent information, including the complaint form, is available on the Police Ethics Commissioner’s website:

There is no statutory requirement in the Quebec Police Act regarding police officers and department’s duty to provide police complaint ethics information and form to individuals who make such a request at the police station. Neither is there a specific or explicit statutory penalty for the denial of this information by a police officer or department. However, the Police Ethics Commissioner’s office has repeatedly asked the Montreal Police Service to ensure full access to this information.

In the last three years, CRARR has documented this pattern of refusal by officers at different local police stations in Montreal, in five different complaints filed with the Quebec human rights commission and the Police Ethics Commissioner.

To date, the issue has not been consistently recognized, by either the Human Rights Commission or the Police Ethics Commissioner as a discriminatory or illegal police practice. In one case, the Police Ethics Commissioner oversaw the formal settlement of a complaint against officers at a downtown station, while in another case, the Commissioner and the Police Ethics Committee, an independent tribunal, refused to address the matter.

Another civil rights complaint, filed by CRARR on behalf of an English-speaking Black woman in Cote des Neiges in October 2009 who was also denied the form at local Police Station 26, is still “under investigation” by the human rights commission. In another recent case, a Black man who had a legally questionable interaction with the police in the East end, also encountered police attempts to discourage him from filing a police ethics complaint.

“We are very concerned about the Montreal Police’s systemic nature of this denial of a public service to racialized Montrealers, because it is a denial of the equal protection and the equal benefit of the law, and we are anxious to see how the Quebec human rights commission and the Police Ethics Commissioner confront this issue,” says Brady Donohue, a Windsor University law intern in charge of the case at CRARR.

The couple, who wishes to remain anonymous at this time, has also filed a police ethics complaint against the front desk officer.

CRARR encourages any person who has been denied this information, or more specifically, the police ethics complaint form, at any police station to contact its office. Please note the physical description of the officer, the time and date and the essence of the conversation.