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Illicit CP - November 2007

Corpun file 19813

logo, Scarborough, Ontario, 23 November 2007

Rumours run wild in Que. police initiation probe

Sebastien Talbot is a member of the Police Brotherhood and has been a Quebec City officer since 1994.

Sgt. Ian Lafreniere says the investigation will just try to determine if any criminal elements are part of the initiation and not if the practice is moral.
Sgt. Ian Lafreniere says the investigation will just try to determine if any criminal elements are part of the initiation and not if the practice is moral.

The Canadian Press  

MONTREAL — The rookie cop initiation nights began with drinks at a private social club and, after a bit of tomfoolery, ended with a firm smack on the buttocks with a clipboard.

Whatever else might have happened during the June hazing of several dozen new Quebec City officers, Montreal police have opened a criminal investigation into complaints from within the Quebec City force.

Quebec's Public Security Department called in the Montreal police to act as an independent investigators.

The tension is palpable among Quebec City officers, says Jean Beaudoin, head of the local police brotherhood.

"We're surprised to hear the investigation is linked to the initiation because no one has ever complained," said Beaudoin, a 16-year veteran of the force.

"Everyone is worried because the majority of officers have undergone the same initiation, including some of those in the brass," Beaudoin added.

"There has never been anything degrading, offensive or disturbing done. If there had been, the police force would have put a stop to it."

The basic form of the initiation dates back at least 50 years in the force. In one ritual, a veteran officer lifts a rookie officer to weigh them while other officers shout out a guess at the rookie's weight.

After three lifts and some laughs, the initiation ends with a firm smack on the behind with a light board, Beaudoin said.

There were a series of initiations during the summer for male and female rookies, but Beaudoin stressed they were voluntary.

Sebastien Talbot, a Quebec City officer since 1994, went through the same initiation.

"It seems childish when you talk about (the initiation)," said Talbot, a 13-year veteran and a part of the brotherhood executive. "But we've all been through that process."

Talbot said the rite has evolved over the years. A retired police officer once told Talbot that in the 1950s, a steel shovel used to scoop coal into the old police station's furnace was used as the bum paddle.

"It's a team building (exercise) and it has been going on for so long," Talbot said.

Beaudoin says the brotherhood doesn't know which members are being questioned or how many officers are subject to the probe. The union has gradually learned of the scope of the investigation as union members meet with investigators.

A Montreal police spokesperson said Friday their investigators don't have all the pieces to the puzzle, either.

Sgt. Ian Lafreniere said it isn't clear how many suspects and how many victims exist, if any. But he confirmed the investigation is limited to Quebec City police and a dozen officers have met Montreal investigators.

"One incident was the starting point, but there could be other allegations involved," Lafreniere said, adding the investigation could last months before it is handed over to the Crown.

Quebec City police said in a news release Thursday night that their Montreal counterparts were asked to look into the criminal allegations.

"(Quebec City police chief) Serge Belisle learned recently that criminal infractions could have possibly been committed within the context of an initiation activity that took place in recent months," the release said.

Belisle promised his force would co-operate with the investigation.

2007 CTV Globe Media All Rights Reserved.

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