PAJ Issue 3 NA

Vol.3

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S ince July 1, 1989, members of the Sùreté du Québec's fed- eral bridge surveillance unit -- known as the Poste au- toroutier de Cartier-Champlain -- have been keeping a close eye on everything that has been happening on, beneath and around the two federal bridges that connect motorists to Montreal from the city's south shore. The provincial police members' surveillance work is intense, vigorous and relentless. The Cartier-Champlain unit sees to it that safety comes first for anyone who uses the Champlain and Jacques-Cartier bridges, as well as the Bonaventure Expressway. The strong, yet discreet, police presence and the measures that have been put into place to assure this safety have brought conclusive results over the past 25 years, with a road safety record that is beyond excellent. On that first day of July in 1989, a major change took place when, not only did the SQ officially take over patrol jurisdiction of the two bridges, but the police service increased surveillance. Twenty five years later, members of the Cartier-Champlain unit tirelessly continue their work. These officers have developed a unique expertise, with each member having been specially trained as negotiators, called upon to act quickly and ready to face any eventuality -- from car accidents to criminal activity and suicide attempts. In fact, the training of one particular officer ended up saving the life of a suicidal man, who threatened to jump from the Jacques-Cartier Bridge in September 2013. The heroic actions of the police officer not only saved the life of the man, but earned him a bravery award in November 2013, at the annual Quebec Police Awards Gala in Montreal. One other notable case that saw the bridge unit's cops take quick action came one night in April 2013, when three cyclists exchanged gunfire on the bike path that runs along Jacques-Cartier Bridge. One member of the surveillance unit assigned to the bridge's cameras observed the scene and immediately notified officers on patrol. The three cyclists were arrested, with their weapons and narcotics seized on the spot. In the wake of a serious traffic accident on the bridge that resulted in three deaths in 1988, provincial coroner Roch Héroux announced major recommendations, including doubling the number of patrol vehicles on the Champlain Bridge, which, at the time was under the jurisdiction of the national Ports Police. Héroux criticized the absence of adequate police patrols on the bridge and along the Bonaventure Expressway. In fact, only one vehicle was assigned to patrol both bridges and the expressway. Shortly after Héroux delivered his report, the SQ was brought in, thus changing the face of bridge surveillance forever. HUMBLE ORIGINS When the provincial police unit first moved in, plans were under way to introduce a new detachment with ultramodern facilities. The new station featured video screens and consoles, with computers that would allow officers to close lanes on the bridge. The force also boasted about its officers being equipped with new, cutting-edge Kustom H-R 12 speed detectors. And, to top it off, it was at this detachment that the SQ unveiled its first fleet of air-conditioned equipped vehicles. The Jacques-Cartier Bridge is a landmark monument easily recognized by bridge lovers around the world. The annual Montreal Marathon attracts some 32,000 runners, and the bridge features prominently during this event. Pedestrians gather in huge crowds on the bridge to catch the annual international fireworks competition, while the Formula Grand Prix weekend in June keeps police busy, since the bridge is located a stone's throw away from the racetrack. -- Stéphane Brunet is a member of the Sûreté du Québec's Cartier-Champlain bridge surveillance unit, and a regular contributor to the Police Advocates Journal. 43 w w w . p o l i c e a d v o c a t e s j o u r n a l . c o m BRIDGING THE GAP Meet the men and women of the Sûreté du Québec who make sure Montreal's two federal bridges remain safe BY STÉPHANE BRUNET Three members of the Sûreté du Québec Cartier-Champlain police station – Claude Salvas, Stéphane Brunet and Yves Desrochers. PHOTO: ROXANNE BELISLE PHOTO: Stéphane Brunet

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