Montreal Police Station 9 Commander Sylvain Bissonnette was the special guest speaker at last week’s bi-monthly patrol meeting of Cote Saint-Luc’s volunteer Citizens on Patrol (vCOP).
The local police chief is also a historian and volunteer commander of the St. John’s Ambulance. He spoke to the membership about the history, philosophy and guiding principles of policing in the western world.
Modern policing systems are derived from French and British legal systems, Bissonnette explained. Sir Robert Peel, 19th century British Prime Minister, was a driving force in creating the Metropolitan Police Force in 1829, based at Scotland Yard, while he served as Home Secretary. The 1,000 constables employed were affectionately nicknamed ‘Bobbies’ (a term still used today).
“Modern police forces are by the people, for the people,” Bissonnette told the volunteers. “They are there to serve and protect based upon the rules of law and good order, and not at the whim of whomever is in charge of the state, as is the case in dictatorships around the world.”
“The scrutiny over police is extensive,” the commander explained, indicating that there are numerous oversight bodies, both official and unofficial including the media as well as the average citizen armed with a smartphone video camera. Such was the case with the now famous story about Constable 728 who was videotaped aggressively pepper-spraying student protesters and others. The video was uploaded to Youtube, covered by national and international media and the officer was disciplined by the force.
The commander concluded saying that the police force is a dynamic and evolving organization, showing off the new vehicles and uniforms that will take effect beginning next month.
Many thanks to Commander Bissonnette for continuing to inspire the members of CSL vCOP. His collaborative style and optimistic outlook is refreshing. His tireless efforts have ensured that Cote Saint-Luc remains the safest community in the Montreal Agglomeration.
For more information on CSL volunteer Citizens on Patrol or to join please visit the vCOP website.