On patrol to prevent violence
The Eclipse squad specializes in the fight against armed violence.
Each evening, officers from the Éclipse squad of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) patrol key locations in the city to fight crime and armed violence. Their role: to ease tensions and gather information on criminal groups. Incursion into the daily life of these agents specializing in crime.
The evening begins at 7:45 p.m. with a meeting to exchange information.
Tonight, five duos will go to places deemed key. If a murder attempt has taken place in a sector of the island, members of the squad will go there in the following days to reassure the citizens and prevent a possible aftershock.
Patrollers will also in places where they are likely to encounter members of organized crime. These are not seedy spots, but chic metropolis bars, VIP parties and great downtown restaurants. Places where police can recognize people they know and identify new ones.
We know them, they know us. So they know we've seen them. The goal is to make sure they stay calm, that everyone has a good evening, that there is no major event developing in a licensed place.
Sergeant Charles Blemur
The evening begins with an exchange of information.
A necessary evil
On the occasion of the visit to Métro, the Commander David Paradis and Sergeant Charles Blemur form a duo. It is not possible to quote and identify the other police officers, so as not to disrupt their work.
We head to a restaurant in the Old Port, not far from the place where a shooting left four injured two years ago. Uniformed police come in, talk to people and greet the owner. If they don't work in civilian clothes, it's to be visible, to calm things down by their mere presence.
Each visit by Eclipse is a “necessary evil ” for the owners of establishments and the people who frequent them, believes Sergeant Blemur.
“We are not going to disturb people for nothing if we know that they are part of organized crime, we are going to greet them with a nod, say good evening,” explains the policeman.
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We are a necessary evil. When we enter a club with several people, the atmosphere changes a little while we are there. But if people had guns, or bad intentions, it calms them down. Because they know they have been seen by the police.
Sergeant Charles Blemur
Sergeant Charles Blemur and Commander David Paradis en route to the Old Port.
Intervene or not
This is followed by visits to strip clubs in the city center, fewer and fewer compared to the massage parlors which are growing like mushrooms around, we are told.
A policewoman approaches two men sitting at the bar. During a few jokes, she managed to see their identity cards. The team checked if the names are in the system. Result: no one was in breach of condition.
During each visit, team members also pay attention to the gestures of “known” people to see if any are likely to have a firearm on them, in order to intervene or not. “Each situation is different and requires an assessment to see if we're going to make an arrest,” Sergeant Blemur says.
Support neighborhood stations
Commander David Paradis explains to us that the team's mission is to carry out active patrols such as the evening one, but also to support neighborhood stations and investigations related to violent events.
For example , this evening, two of the five Eclipse duos were deployed to support the investigators of a neighborhood station, awaiting a search warrant. “They were observing the scene, blocking access. Now that the warrant has been obtained, they will collaborate with the investigators to carry out the search,” reports Commander Paradis.
The patrol will continue until four in the morning. When we leave, around midnight, we have not witnessed any arrests. Was it a successful evening?
“If we intervene in a risky place and nothing happens, it's a success”, underlines Sergeant Blemur. In most cases, that's what happens and everyone goes home “in one piece. »
14 years of fighting crime
Montreal police created the Eclipse Squad in 2008 to fight crime and street gangs. At the time, the team was acting on three fronts: street gangs, drugs and cybercrime. The mandate evolved to focus on the fight against organized crime, then on the prevention of armed violence. In April, the team doubled its number of patrollers from 24 to 48 patrollers. Since January, it also operates during the day.
Eclipse and ELTA
The Commander David Paradis is at the origin of the creation, in 2020, of the team dedicated to the fight against arms trafficking (ELTA) of the SPVM, which subsequently became a mixed unit under the aegis of the Security of Quebec. This team completes the work of squads like Eclipse by attacking the supply of firearms, a phenomenon that goes far beyond the borders of Montreal and even the province, underlines Commander Paradis.