MONTREAL – Montreal police are to meet today with an officer who was captured on video telling a homeless man he would tie him to a pole for an hour in the freezing cold if his behaviour didn’t improve.
Police spokesman Ian Lafreniere said disciplinary measures could range from a verbal warning to a suspension.
The officer can be seen telling the man that if another citizen complained to police about him he would “tie him to a pole for an hour.”
The homeless man was wearing only a short-sleeved T-shirt and jean shorts that reached his calves.
Lafreniere said the officer’s comments during the exchange on Thursday afternoon, when Montreal was in the middle of a deep freeze, were “unacceptable” and “inexplicable.”
The comments were caught on tape by a passer-by who can be heard telling the officer he isn’t allowed to utter such threats.
“It really isn’t what we expect of our officers,” Lafreniere said. “It is unacceptable and, especially, inexplicable.”
Lafreniere said the man refused the officer’s requests that he get into a police cruiser or to go to a shelter for the homeless.
“I can’t tell you right now whether his (the officer’s) intention was to do what he threatened to do,” Lafreniere said. “But the end result is very sad.”
Other police officers eventually found the man and finally persuaded him to go to hospital.
Lafreniere said the Montreal force has had two volunteers on each shift all this week who have gone out to help the homeless.
Mayor Denis Coderre said Friday he spoke to Montreal police Chief Marc Parent as soon as he heard about the incident on social media.
“There is nothing that excuses that kind of remark,” Coderre said at a ceremony at the Port of Montreal.
“What was said and done was unacceptable and it can’t happen again.”
The mayor cautioned, however, that mental-health issues can be a complicating factor in such encounters.
Coderre reiterated his commitment to helping the homeless with a long-term strategy.
“When was the last time you met a homeless person, looked him in the eye and asked him his name,” he said. “It’s a question of dignity, as well.”