Pierrefonds officers garner top prize for pioneering a better way of policing

By Robert Frank

Five police officers from Station 3 in Pierrefonds will be honoured for transforming the way the law is enforced in Montreal.

Commander Michel Wilson, Sgt. Sébastien Hébert, Const. Dominique Gernier and Const. Clive Olivier and community affairs official Kathy van Bronswick will receive the Commendation for Excellence from Montreal police chief Marc Parent during a ceremony in November.

They earned the laurels for developing a new, constructive way of policing, one that teams up police officers and mental health professionals.

“Most of the time the people whom the police deal with are in crisis,” explained Const. Khobee Gibson who, together with Const. Rachel Arcelin, nominated the five for the award.

“That’s not to say that they’re mentally ill,” he quickly added. “But most of them are agitated, and if we can avoid charging them and instead can help them, then we have done our job as police officers. That is what this project has accomplished.”

According to Const. Gibson, the five Pierrefonds police officers brought together clinical experts and hospital officials “to try to find new ways to solve problems in society, rather than have the police deal with the same people over and over again, year after year.”

“By working together, we are able to solve most of those problems,” he enthused.

He said that the five started to question longstanding police procedures and explored whether a new win-win methods could be introduced.

“People need help,” Const. Gibson concluded. “Sometimes we have no other choice but to arrest someone but, if we can, we will help people.”

He said that the award recipients often worked on their own time after hours and on weekends to meet people and bring the project to fruition. 

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