• John Jantak

Increased police presence reducing weekend rowdiness in Ste. Anne de Bellevue village


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Station 1 police Commander Richard Thouin and Mayor Paola Hawa tell citizens at the Monday evening council meeting that a public information campaign and increased police presence has reduced the number of incidents involving public drinking and rowdiness on weekends in the Ste. Anne de Bellevue village area.

An increased police presence and public information campaign that was launched at the beginning of the new school year more than two weeks ago has successfully reduced the number of public drinking and vandalism incidents committed by young adults who frequent the downtown village area in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, said Station 1 police Commander Richard Thouin.

Thouin, who presented the details at the start of the monthly council meeting on Monday evening, credited the downturn to an increase in the number of officers who have been patrolling the area on weekends, and with partnerships formed among bar owners and with officials from the city’s two major educational institutions, John Abbott College and McGill University.

The strategy is simple – approach people in a non-confrontational manner and let them know that any type of unruly behavior that disturbs the public peace will not be tolerated and could result in being fined or arrested. “Our aim is to sensitize people,” Thouin told Your Local Journal. “There is zero tolerance for any uncivil behavior including screaming or drinking in public.”

Thouin said he’s pleased bar owners and school administrators have been receptive to the police initiative. “We made certain suggestions and they’re cooperating with us,” he said. “For example, at the end of the night, bar owners and DJs will tell their patrons to leave calmly or they could face criminal charges. We want to take a preventive approach rather than reacting after an incident has occurred.”

A campaign will also be launched to place posters in bar restrooms to reinforce the message that unruly behavior and public drunkenness will not be tolerated. “We want to keep emphasizing that it’s important for people to behave when they leave the bars. This way when they leave and see the police, they’ll know we mean business.” The aim of the program is to clear the village area as quickly as possible after closing time in order to keep groups of people from congregating and to prevent fights.

“We’re doing exactly what they do on Crescent Street in downtown Montreal – clear the area as rapidly as possible.” “I am relieved and very happy with the way Commander Thouin and his officers have taken charge of this file,” Mayor Paola Hawa told Your Local Journal. “It’s not a secret that we have issues with young adults who are overdrinking, going through the city creating lots of property damage and causing a ruckus.”

Hawa credits Thouin for initiating the project after they both met in July to discuss the issue and design a strategy aimed at curbing unruly behaviour. “He came through for us,” said Hawa. “He put quite a few people on the project and they spoke to all our partners in the city – the bar owners, the CEGEP and university.” “Everybody is cooperating,” added Hawa who also credited the police for their proactive approach to crime prevention.

“I have not seen anything like this in the five years that I have been involved with council. I am very encouraged by the efforts the police are making.” Both Hawa and Thouin continue to stress the importance for residents to report any incidents of vandalism or criminal activity to the police by calling 911. “This where our frustration lies,” said Hawa.

“People still don’t understand that they have to call 911 because unless they do, there is no record of it. This means the police can’t figure out with their data where they need to put resources. It helps them when we call 911. “I think people still have that old mentality that you only call 911 when it’s an absolute emergency,” Hawa added.

“It’s not like that anymore. Now they categorize the calls so if it’s an emergency, they’ll send somebody. Otherwise they’ll take down the information and put it away for analysis purposes. People have to get into the habit of calling 911. If they don’t feel comfortable doing that, they should at least go onto the Station 1 website (http://www.spvm.qc.ca/en/Pages/ Report-an-event) and fill out the online incident report.”

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