Editorial: Better police service: it’s urgent

The Town of Brome Lake desperately wants and needs its own police force. The Sûreté du Québec is little more than a highway patrol, catching speeders on our roads. Most of them are strangers.

The officers seldom get out of their cars and they are rarely seen on the hundreds of kilometres of dirt roads along which a majority of residents live.

In light of the recent tragedy where a 17-year-old TBL resident was fatally shot by police, it is imperative to look at police services. The negotiations between Town of Brome Lake and Bromont to get joint police services have been underway for several months and will resume after the summer break. Not a moment too soon.

Recognizing people, and knowing who they are, is at the root of a close-knit community and it can make a difference in a time of crisis. If our police officers were part of our communities, if their work instructions were more related to the needs of the community, if they got out of their cruisers to walk the streets and get to know the people, if they were present in the community, that would go a long way to help prevent tragic events. Working on community policing should be the number one goal at the TBL-Bromont talks.

Closely related to that first priority, is providing more visible and tangible services to the population. When complaints to the SQ for different every day nuisances such as noise, for example, are deferred to the town or repeatedly ignored, citizens are right to feel that they do not get appropriate services for the tax dol- lars spent on the police force.

In TBL close to $2 million a year is spent on the SQ for a hamlet of 5500 souls! Cowansville, with a population of more than 13,600 people, pays $1.691 million for police services in 2018. This aberration is based on the fact that police costs are not based on population or crime rate but on the land value of the serviced locality. It is not considered a service but rather a wealth redistribution program.

Finally, what prompted the Bromont-TBL talks in the first place was to lower the price of police services in TBL. Bromont can also benefit by extending the territory of its police coverage. The cost issue has to remain a priority of the talks. Citizens want value for their money.

The two municipalities see eye-to-eye on the validity of joining forces in order to convince Quebec to make a legislative exception to the Police Act to allow the Bromont police force to cover TBL’s territory. Quebec is in election mode, so don’t expect any quick movement on this issue before the dust settles after the October election. In the meantime, putting pressure on the local candidates and their parties on this issue would be more than welcome. For the citizens of TBL, the issue is one of urgency.