SPVM says closure of NDG's Station 11 will improve services to the community

Mike Porcelli's car has been broken into three times while parked in his own Montreal neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, and he said local police have always responded in a timely way."When I would call, they would send an officer within 45 minutes." said Porcelli, standing in front of Station 11 on Somerled Avenue."They've always been very nice over here."By the end of this year, police will no longer be operating out of Station 11. The nearest police station will be Côte Saint-Luc's Station 9, two and half kilometres away, on Westminster Avenue.Montreal police service (SPVM) spokesperson Insp. André Durocher said the two stations will be integrated, with the goal of improving services to the community."The objective is not to cut resources, but to be more optimal of the use of our resources," Durocher said.Station 9, which moved to the Westminster Avenue location two years ago, primarily serves Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead and Montreal West.  When Station 11 moves in, there will be no job or service cuts, Durocher said, as the decision has nothing to do with budgetary constraints.He said officers will continue to patrol the surrounding neighbourhoods as they always have."Having been a commander of a station for many years, I know it's more important that the officers are out there on the road rather than to have them inside," he said."In terms of efficiency and for police visibility, for safety, and in order to respond in a quicker fashion, it's better to have the officers on the road."Porcelli told CBC that having Station 11 so close by has always put NDG residents at ease."We're going to see them a lot less often," he said. "I don't know if that's such a good thing."Residents throughout the city's the west end have been expressing worries about the merger on social media for more than a week.Some say they feel safe because they see officers patrolling daily in NDG, while others argue there isn't enough presence to begin with.A loss for the area, says mayor Côte-des-Neiges–NDG borough Mayor Sue Montgomery said she disagrees with the decision to merge the two stations, but elected officials don't have the power to stop a police station from being shut down."Côte Saint-Luc doesn't have the same challenges that we do," she told CBC Montreal's Daybreak. "I don't even know if they have any sort of violent crime.""I'm not saying that there's a lot of crime in our community, but there certainly is room to build relationships between the police and the various communities."Though it is generally a quieter community than NDG, Côte Saint-Luc is not free of all violent crime.There have been stabbings, assaults, burglaries and homicides in recent years, including the 2016 death of a 17-year-old boy in a robbery, and the 2019 death of a man in a suspected knife fight in the parking lot of Décarie Square.Watch as Insp. André Durocher explains the SPVM's decision:Montgomery said the SPVM told her weeks ago that the merger was a "done deal." When she expressed her concerns about the move, police told her that NDG residents can file a report online instead."That's not the point," she said. "What I want are people present in the community. I want people to feel that the police are approachable."Politicians oppose decisionCôte Saint-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein has said he, too, is concerned about the integration plan. He said the consolidation will more than triple the number of officers working out of a single location covering a vast area, which he worries will lead to a drop in service.Coun. Marvin Rotrand said he is urging his fellow councillors in Côte-Des-Neiges—NDG to take "united action" to oppose the closure of Station 11."We will have to be proactive and invite the community groups to join us in pushing back, or the police station will be gone," said Rotrand in a statement.Rotrand, who represents the district of Snowdon but lives in NDG, also criticized Montgomery for not letting citizens or the borough council know about the SPVM decision."She did not inform the councillors, made no effort to rally the public and made no statement that she is opposed," he said. "I call her actions irresponsible and a breathtaking lack of leadership."

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