Playing the Bianca Leduc card with little shame, western off-island mayors want the Quebec government to give them the power to give private security firms the power to hand out tickets for moving violations (such as speeding). They say the SQ is insufficient at the job, partially because their officers are paid so damn much.
Currently, with two notable exceptions, only police officers (municipal police, SQ or otherwise) can hand out legally-enforceable tickets to people. The two exceptions are Stationnement de Montréal (the green onions), who hand out parking tickets (but cannot ticket motorists for moving violations like going through a red light or making a wrong turn), and private security inspectors who patrol the public transit system (like the inspectors AMT hires to check proof of purchase on commuter trains), who can ticket for failing to pay a fare or other minor violations. In neither case are the agents armed, and they cannot make arrests or otherwise forcibly confine citizens.
What the mayors want is a system more like we see in the U.S., in which private companies have a limited role in law enforcement, and their actions are under constant scrutiny (to the point of having video cameras record alleged infringements).
Only one mayor, Michel Kandyba of Pincourt, has stuck out as having reservations about the idea:
Pincourt Mayor Michel Kandyba said he doesn’t agree with the other mayors that it’s a good idea to create a new category of unarmed agents to issue tickets for moving violations. More SQ officers doing more Highway Code enforcement is the better way to go, he said.
“Just imagine all the things that could go wrong with unarmed officers, given the lack of respect people have for authority in Quebec,” he said. “Imagine someone unarmed, who is not a police officer, saying to you, ‘Hey, you’re speeding, I’m giving you a ticket.'”
I think his point is very important, not because I think people are going to pull guns on these unarmed enforcement agents, but because being a police officer is more than just putting on a uniform with a big belt. There’s a reason that SQ officers are paid more than these glorified bouncers that work for private security firms, and that reason makes them much more qualified to handle the high stress situations that will arise when you stop someone for speeding.
Another reason I have reservations about this idea is because of the inequities it creates. Cities with big budgets and rich property owners will be able to afford better security. And then what’s next? Their own private court system? Private hospitals? Will their citizens get a discount on tickets compared to visitors from out of town? 2-for-1 deals?
Maybe I’m just being paranoid and silly. But can SQ officers just be replaced on the roads of Quebec’s small towns with private security officers who are paid half as much?