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Policy on Police Checks

The Policy on Police Checks, adopted on July 8, 2020, marks an important cultural shift in the police practices of the SPVM. It will officially structure and guide police checks, which constitute an essential practice in matters of public safety. The SPVM is the first police organization in Quebec to adopt such a policy.

This policy is the result of a broad participatory process during which the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) carried out more than 160 consultations, in particular with members of different ethnocultural communities, community and health care organizations, street workers, merchants, concertation tables, as well as SPVM police and civilians.

The Policy on Police Checks will be in effect in the fall of 2020 once it has been presented to all staff and the computer system used by police to document police stops has been updated. The data will be used for analysis and supervision purposes in order to assess the achievement of our objectives.

In addition to the policy, the SPVM is planning several other concrete actions that will support its implementation in order to positively and sustainably initiate this important cultural shift within our organization.

Click to read the Policy on Police Checks.


Police checks are performed, in particular, with the aim of assisting a person and preventing uncivil behaviour and offences against laws, regulations and by-laws. They constitute an important activity for police officers to do their job. For example, some officers may proceed with police checks to look for a missing person or a fugitive. Police checks also result from complaints to 9-1-1 or concerns reported by citizens.

However, police checks must be based on observable facts and not on the police officers’ perceptions or on the biases indirectly associated with the complaints, reports or requests for assistance transmitted to them. Although the results of the report presented by the independent researchers on October 7, 2019 do not address individual discriminatory behaviour by police personnel, the SPVM today is establishing guidelines to prevent any unfounded or random police check.


This Policy is an internal technical document, creating an operational framework for police personnel regarding the practice of police checks. The Policy is part of the SPVM’s operating standards, so compliance with its application is mandatory. Management measures already in place within the SPVM for any deviation from compliance with a policy will be enforced, if applicable.

Concretely, the Policy will allow to:

  • have a common definition of the concepts, such as police check and social interaction, and an explanation of the principles of application;
  • better establish the context of police checks and identify the disparities of police checks of members of ethnocultural, known as “racialized” or belonging to a visible minority or an Indigenous communities.
    • In fact, the computerized police check records from now on will indicate whether the check was initiated by the police officer or resulted from a 9-1-1 call, or a report by a citizen or another police officer.
    • The police officer will also have to indicate the circumstances that justified the check and the objective sought.
    • This practice will be made possible by the improvement of the computerized system used by the SPVM. This will be completed when the Policy takes effect in fall 2020;
  • require police officers to inform citizens of the summary reasons justifying checks (subject to exceptions described in the Policy);
  • inform and give awareness to police officers regarding citizens’ rights in the context of the practice of police checks.

Concretely, the Policy will prohibit:

  • any police checks that are unfounded, random or based on a discriminatory criterion;
  • the use of a power, provided for in a statute or arising from common law, as a pretext for the sole purpose of identifying a person and obtaining information and resorting to a regulation or by-law for such purposes.