Quebec launches Operation Centaur to fight gun violence

The Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, announced Friday morning the launch of Operation Centaur, the latest milestone in the fight against gun violence.

The government is investing $ 90 million, which will be used to add 107 new resources to several police services in the province and new specialized devices, as well as to strengthen collaboration and the exchange of information.

It is surrounded by the Minister responsible for the Metropolis, Chantal Rouleau, the director of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), Johanne Beausoleil, the president of the Association of Quebec police directors, Pierre Brochet, as well as the director of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM), Sylvain Caron, that the Minister of Public Security made this announcement. Representatives of some twenty municipal and Aboriginal police forces in Quebec were also present.

“We are all worried and we want to send a strong message that it is enough,” insisted Ms. Guilbault. All the police forces in the province will be part of this new initiative, she repeated, for “an unprecedented strike force”. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canada Border Services Agency are also participating in the concerted effort. Indigenous police forces will also be involved, and greater collaboration will be required with the OPP and the US Department of Homeland Security investigative service.

The Quebec strategy to fight against firearms violence presented on Friday morning will also focus on increasing the exchange of information, and the disruption of the illegal supply of firearms by increasing the number of firearms. investigations and seizures. Quebec also wishes to support the development of knowledge by investing in the Laboratory of Forensic Sciences and Forensic Medicine.

Finally, Minister Guilbault said she also wanted to prevent crime, through programs that help young people to “find life alternatives” and “before a gun ends up in their hands”. For now, the sums announced will mainly be directed “to repression”, she conceded, however.

Of the $ 90 million, most of the funding will go to the Sûreté du Québec, which will coordinate the operation, or $ 74 million. The Laval and Longueuil police services will also receive $ 5.2 million and $ 3 million, respectively, over five years to strengthen their specialized teams already in place and hire new police officers.

Operation Centaur, for “Coordination of national efforts on arms trafficking, united in repression and investigations” seeks to “consolidate”, says Quebec, the other measures put in place in recent months. These are indeed three special squads for a year, including a mixed squad between the SPVM and the SQ last August, which were dissolved in this new operation.

To questions from journalists who asked how this initiative was different from previous announcements, Minister Guilbault objected that this time the mobilization of the police was “beyond measure”. For example, she rejected the comparison with the Carcajou squad, created in 1995: “It was 10 million and 44 police officers. We are elsewhere with Centaur. “

In the metropolis

An upsurge in gun-related violence in Montreal has been confirmed since 2019, with four times more attempted murders in Montreal than in previous years, according to information provided during this announcement. Several major weapons searches have also took place in august and in September.

In the first six months of 2021, the SPVM recorded 209 crimes against the person involving firearms, including 21 attempted murders. As a benchmark, Montreal recorded 251 firearms offenses in all of 2020, and 344 in 2019. More young people would also have obtained firearms since the start of the pandemic.

“Montreal has always been a safe city and it will remain so,” promised Minister Rouleau. The recent shootings, especially in the east of the island, are “unacceptable”, she continued.

Nearly one million dollars of this envelope of 90 million in total will go to the SPVM. This sum will be used to train certain police officers and to purchase specialized equipment, said the director of the SPVM, Sylvain Caron.

Further details will follow.

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