Hiring more police officers not a long-term solution for gun violence, says Concordia prof

“Every act of gun violence is a policy failure because we know what solves gun violence, but we don’t want to do it because it’s easier to sell hiring more cops,” said Ted Rutland, Anti-Carceral group, on SPVM priorities. Farah Mustapha reports.

By Farah Mustapha, OMNI

Recruiting additional police officers is not a long-term solution to tackle gun violence in Montreal, according to a Concordia University professor.

Montreal’s new police chief Fady Dagher says recruitment is one of his top priorities. And the province has pledged $250 million over the next five years to help Montreal hire more officers to fight gun violence.

But professor Ted Rutland, a member of Anti-Carceral Group, says the focus should be shifted away from recruitment and onto what he calls the root of the problem.

“Every act of gun violence is a policy failure because we know what solves gun violence but we don’t want to do it because it’s easier to sell hiring more cops,” said Rutland, who is also an associate professor of geography, planning and environment at Concordia.

Rutland believes root problems within the policing system is simply exacerbated by ignoring deeper issues.

“The police can arrest people who have committed an act of violence, we can give them the mandate of stopping violence, but what they actually do when they try to stop violence is trying to arrest people whom they think that they are involved in an act of violence.

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“And with all what we know about the way policing is structured is that a lot of harassment, surveillance and arrest of people of colour like Black, Arab, Latino and Indigenous people.”

Rutland believes the best way to tackle gun violence is by working with all communities.

He also feels there needs to be an emphasis on other forms of violence – like femicides and sexual violence – because different forms of violence are connected.

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“The reason that it is important is that sexual violence is a horrible kind of violence, and people – many women mostly – are living with the trauma of it. And it is also the first way that men learn violence.

“Some of the first violence is sexual violence and that leads to other violence. So if you address sexual violence, you address other kinds of violence.”

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Dagher, who was officially named head of the SPVM in January, says he wants to invest in crime prevention and youth awareness.

“Prevention is to go meet the young boys and girls in kindergarten, primary school, high school, and university, try to be next to them. But not only the police, the teacher, the social worker the soccer coach, and make a team as intervention people to try to show young kids that ‘hey you can choose the right side,’” said Dagher.

“It takes a village to raise a kid, this is what I want to bring back to Montreal. We need that village and everybody should be involved, including the police.”

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