Faced with repeated criticism of local and regional police forces, the Quebec Association of Chiefs of Police is adopting a new public awareness strategy aimed at improving its image.
“I think there is a lack of love from the population towards the police,” said the director of the association, Didier Deramond.
As part of this campaign, the association released the first of a series of videos illustrating the work of professional policing.
The video, uploaded on Wednesday, shows a series of interviews with police officers and the subject of a police intervention. In their testimonies, they describe approaching the subject, who was armed, and talking to him.
“We are the first to respond to the scene,” Jean-Patrick Gobeil, a Trois-Rivières police officer, said in the video. “We find the person in a state of crisis, at the height of his crisis.”
“What we see on social media, or anywhere else, is actions or interventions that have gone wrong or (when) there is a problem,” Daramond told CTV.
“But 99% of the time, I think, where the police are doing a great service to the public, it’s not talked about.”
Daramond says enrollment in police technology training programs is down. Retired Montreal officer André Durocher says some police forces in Quebec have difficulty retaining personnel in a context of high and generalized stress.
“We see a lot of people who have only been with the police for a few 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 advocacy campaign is a good first step in restoring public confidence in officers.
“As someone who often harshly criticizes a lot of police misconduct, I have to be the first to say that we need to humanize the policing profession,” he said.
“Hopefully this video campaign will be followed by more grassroots community relations and more on-the-ground cooperation at the neighborhood level where people are.”
The Association of Chief Constables will release one video per month over the next year.