Montreal police force increase lucrative private security contracts

Margoe Edwards/CJAD

The city of Montreal wants to increase revenue for the Montreal police department by boosting the number of security contracts the department signs with private companies.

It is standard practice for private firms to hire off-duty police officers through the department to provide security for special events, such as directing traffic around construction zones, and securing streets for film shoots.

Tight budgets have led the Public Safety commission to recommend increasing these privately paid contracts.

Some question the ethics of this practice, as it may be considered a conflict of interest.

Police commander Ian Lafreniere says police screen their clients and won't partner with businesses they have investigated in the past.

While some worry police would give special treatment to firms that hire them, he says not just anyone can use this service.

"This is not a rent-a-cop type of thing" he says, "it's impossible for you to call up to say 'I want a police officer outside of my house, I want a police officer outside of my business' It's not going to happen. Because of possible conflict of interest we are extremely careful with this."

Renting out police services has been a major cash cow for Montreal police, pulling in nearly 3.9 million each year.

Lafreniere says charging firms for extra security is a great way to ensure that residents receive the same amount of policing even during special events, without costing taxpayers.

"You're not going to lose the coverage you would get normally because someone has a special request" says Lafreniere "you're going to have the same amount of police officers protecting you and the person that needs extra service is going to pay for it."

Lafreniere says that this is a way to ensure that special events requiring extra security don't strain police resources.

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