Laval adds $1.2 million to LPD budget to counter gang-related firearms crisis

Action Laval says city is just throwing money at a complex underlying problem

Following a sharp rise in the number of firearms-related crimes in Laval over the past few months, officials with the city as well as the Laval Police Department announced last week that $1.2 million in additional funding is being given to the LPD to hire more staff to deal with what appears to be an escalating crisis.

Not a simple matter

“The answer that we are expected to give following such violent acts is never a simple matter,” Laval Deputy Mayor and executive-committee vice-president Stéphane Boyer said during a press briefing last week during which the additional funding was announced.

“That is why we want to make sure we are taking actions that will have an immediate impact out on the territory, while we continue to pursue long-term efforts in education and prevention,” he continued. “In this way we are making sure that all the families and all people who live in the greater metropolitan region and in Laval can live in peace and security. Laval is a secure city and intends to remain so.”

A cooperative approach

With the money, the LPD plans to hire eight new police officers to be assigned specifically to the problem. “These urban violence phenomena linked to firearms with which we are now faced necessitate an intensification of our actions on the ground as well as greater cooperation with other police forces,” said LPD chief Pierre Brochet.

“That’s why we will be adding to our team some police officers to increase the sustained efforts already undertaken by the LPD,” he added. “These additional personnel will allow us to intensify our interventions, as we counter even more efficiently and sustainably this scourge that is impacting the sense of security among Laval residents. I would like at the same time to single out the devotion and commitment shown by our police officers out on the territory.”

Quebec might get involved

Boyer suggested there may still be a lot of work ahead controlling the local gun and firearms problem, necessitating the involvement of police and public safety officials from a higher level of government.

“In spite of the concrete action taken today by our administration, it is no less important to note that this problem knows no bounds, and that is why we are working in close proximity with the Ministry of Public Security in order to implement a regional approach that is coordinated,” he said.

In another part of the statement issued by the city, they said part of the reason the City of Laval opposed a clause in the federal government’s proposed gun control legislation Bill C-21 was that it sought to delegate the control of handguns to municipalities.

Among the firearms seized by police last year was this handgun which was being used in gang-related criminal activity.

Not a solution, says Action Laval

In addition to beefing up the LPD, the city is currently also urging any Laval resident who feels threatened by the presence of illegal firearms in their vicinity or who has information about the dangerous use of firearms to reach out to the Laval Police through the force’s Info-Line at 450 662-INFO (4636), or by calling 911.

But not everyone is happy with the administration’s response to the firearms crisis. Action Laval leader and mayoral candidate Sophie Trottier and city councillors Isabelle Tassoni (Laval-des-Rapides) and Aglaia Revelakis (Chomedey) denounced the efforts as an attempt to solve a serious problem by throwing money at it, without other means to get at the underlying cause.

More needs to be done

“Faced with this denial of democracy and absence of vision for real solutions, we cannot explain the stubbornness of the administration in refusing to consult the other city councillors as a whole,” they said in a statement, noting that they were never consulted on the city’s $1.2 million course of action.

“In as much as we believe that crime prevention is part of the solution, we remain convinced that much more could have been done,” said Revelakis. “This is a public security issue which is neither political nor partisan. As well, I even questioned the mayor on this issue during the last city council meeting, hoping that we would be consulted on an issue that especially affects the districts that we represent.”

Tackle the gangs, Trottier says

Action Laval’s leader suggested that the administration could have taken a more detailed look at the problem, including taking into account the fact that illicit firearm use is being spread in Laval by street gangs that attract young people.

“Our goal is to rebuild the social networks which would facilitate the creation of an environment conducive to the proper development of each person,” she said, citing Action Laval policy. “In other words, rather than intervening with street gangs, we would prefer that they’re no longer even an option for our youths.”