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Citizens want stronger police presence in Saint-Raymond
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 17 mars 2011

Photo: Marie Cicchini
The grocery store operated by Steve Cassin (right) and his brother Gino at the corner of Belgrave and Upper Lachine was broken into three times in less than a year.

For the past 20 years Jean-Marc Pagé has seen the crime rate increase significantly in his neighbourhood. “We’re talking about murders committed by members of the Mafia as well as by 20-year-olds,” he said as a preamble to his question at the March 7 borough council meeting.

The room was crowded despite the recent heavy snowfall, and the Saint-Raymond resident said at least ten more residents were expected to join him in airing their concerns.

Pagé lives on Upper Lachine between Decarie and Grand Boulevard where five break-ins were reported over the past month. He asked for more police presence in the neighbourhood to fight problems including graffiti, vandalism, drug dealing and prostitution. Pagé also said he regularly sees cars endangering children, as many drivers don’t obey the rules for school busses making stops along their routes.

NDG district councillor Peter McQueen described the scene as “rock’n’roll” over the past two years. “We’re keeping our eyes open. Community groups are working on the graffiti file, and we’re going to do whatever we can to improve the situation in Saint-Raymond this summer.”

Police commanding officer Daniel Leduc admitted that there has been a flare-up of criminal activities on Upper Lachine between Girouard and Cavendish, including problems from gangs with links to the Mafia. This requires more than an increased police presence or better daily planning of patrols. “The recent shooting occurred

in broad daylight. For being at the right place at the right time, there’s not much we can do,” he said.

Leduc said that officers are working hard to beef up their presence in the area, keeping in mind that too much visibility can be annoying. But residents are “the eyes and ears of the police” and he encourages people to call 911 whenever they see something that isn’t right.

Another citizen, Steve Cassin, also raised concerns about safety and irregular police service south of the tracks in NDG.

“In the last three weeks alone, there have been two robberies on St. Jacques in the Upper Lachine area. Most recently, the Bell Canada store on St. Jacques was robbed. Thieves broke into Marché Extra, on the corner of Belgrave and Upper Lachine, the third time in less than a year. “The police response time was greater than 20 minutes on all three of those occasions,” said the store owner.

Cassin has already noticed increased police surveillance near the store. It’s appreciated, he said, but police must also be present in the south side of NDG, around the MUHC project and the new CLSC. “Does the city have any plans to increase manpower and resources available at police station 11?” he asked.

The City Council establishes budgets but the police departments determine how they use the money and staffing requirements in different police stations. The police commanding officer’s role is also to determine problems areas.

Leduc said they are considering a bike patrol and reinstating a foot patrol as a priority this summer because of their positive impact for businesspeople and citizens.

Steve Cassin enquired as to the possibility of getting regular feedback on the progress of an investigation, since a warrant for an arrest was issued back in May 2010. Mayor Michael Applebaum also asked for news about the case.

“When inspectors say there is nothing new, that means they are still working on the case and are looking for witnesses,” Leduc answered. Applebaum asked him to set up a citizens committee made up of residents and businesspeople, and to meet with them to discuss problems and get advice so that they can help the police improve service in that sector.

[ Marie Cicchini ]

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