Ste. Anne residents advised to always call 911 to report disturbances after frosh week mayhem
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Ste. Anne de Bellevue Mayor Paola Hawa said the city will work closely with Station 1 police and school officials to limit incidents of rowdiness during frosh week next year.
Public disturbances and rowdiness caused by students from John Abbott College and McGill University’s MacDonald Campus during frosh week in Ste. Anne de Bellevue caused several residents to complain about the lack of a proper police presence to SPVM Station 1 police Commander Sébastien de Montigny before the start of the Monday evening council meeting, September 13.
For a city that usually deals with complaints of rowdy public behaviour occurring during the school year along the downtown Ste. Anne strip overnight between Thursday to Saturday, the antics that were perpetrated during frosh week proved too much for many residents who live along the residential side streets.
They complained to de Montigny, Mayor Paola Hawa and council members that the disruptive behaviour that lasted the entire week and included vandalism, students using garbage and recycling bins for chariot races, and a boisterous overnight party attended by about 80 students in an apartment flat.
When de Montigny asked whether the residents who were affected called 911, most said they didn’t although some said they called the city’s public security department and complained they didn’t get an immediate response.
Instead of calling public security, de Montigny stressed that residents should always call 911 to report all disturbances and vandalism because the police are the only ones who are mandated to deal with these types of situations and are authorized to use force to disperse people and make arrests if necessary.
When people complained about slow police response times, de Montigny said he understood people’s frustrations and said that all 911 calls are prioritized according to the severity of the situation and that calls related to domestic violence and other life-threatening scenarios take precedence.
He conceded that at times, a low priority call may go unanswered because there are not enough police officers available, especially if they are called away from their districts to help provide support to their colleagues during large demonstrations in downtown Montreal or emergency situation that require a large police presence.
If residents have complaints as to what they may perceive to be an inadequate police response, they should contact Station 1 in Kirkland or call 911 to voice their complaints, de Montigny added. He said the police always strive to answer all 911 calls as quickly as possible.
Another reason why calls to 911 are important is because that is the only way the police are able to determine which areas are trouble spots and they will increase their presence to deal with future situations.
“People should call 911 first as soon as they see something,” said de Montigny. “This makes it easier for us to intervene. People are complaining that things were happening all week, but how can we do anything if no one bothers call 911. Public security can’t go into houses or onto private property, but we can.”
Mayor Hawa said the city has collaborated with Commander de Montigny, the schools and bars and made a concerted to minimize incidents of drunken rowdiness and vandalism during the last school semester. She placed the blame on the misbehaviour that happened during frosh weekly squarely on first-year students.
“It’s not because the schools’ haven’t tried,” said Hawa. “The bars are cooperating, the police are present, our public security is present but it’s just that there’s so many of them. So when the police arrive, they’re like little rats and they scurry off to another area.
“These kids come here when they’re 18- or 19-years-old and it’s probably the first time they’re outside the house and don’t know how to react to their freedom,” Hawa added. “If they had been brought up properly, they would know better than to do this stuff. They come to us misbehaved having not being brought up properly and then it’s up to us to handle these kids.”
By the second school year, the original first-year students have calmed down but then, but the new first-year students repeat the pattern, said Hawa, adding that the city will work closely with the police and schools to make sure a similar situation doesn’t occur during frosh week next year.
Hawa also criticized the derogatory tone exhibited by some residents towards de Montigny as he tried to explain the police perspective, saying the commander and all Station 1 police officers are doing the best they can to deal with student rowdiness.