Pierre Coriolan: the coroner recommends an update of police training

Pierre Coriolan: the coroner recommends an update of police training

Pierre Coriolanus

Following this public inquiry into the death of Pierre Coriolan, a black man with mental health issues who was shot dead by police in 2017 in Montreal, coroner Luc Malouin recommends an update to police training .

This is the main message of his public inquiry report released on Wednesday morning. At the end of this public inquiry, which began in February 2020 and then suspended for more than a year in pandemic, coroner Luc Malouin said he wanted to “change the police environment for the better”.

Pierre Coriolan was going through an episode of distress and had just been evicted from his accommodation when the six police officers arrived in front of the building in the Ville-Marie district.

After trying to control the 58-year-old man Using a stun gun and rubber bullets, officers from the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) opened fire on the victim. The police claim that Mr. Coriolan was holding a knife and a screwdriver in his hands and that they finally disarmed him using the telescopic baton.

Pierre Coriolan died in hospital after being hit by three projectiles. According to coroner Luc Malouin, his death highlights the “consequences of a lack of police training”.

Lack of training “unacceptable”

According to two experts in force intervention heard during the hearings, the police operation would have benefited from being done more slowly. Indeed, the police should have switched to “defensive mode once they saw that he [Pierre Coriolan] was sitting in his apartment and seemed in his world” since there was no longer any urgency to act. at this time.

However, the intervention was carried out according to the training that the police officers had at the time of the events. In fact, the police officers involved had not had the most recent training in intervention with people in crisis. “This intervention does not meet what is expected of police officers trained in recent years,” said the coroner, who described this lack of training as “unacceptable”.

For Me Luc Malouin, this demonstrates the need to regularly update and improve the training of police officers to deal with this type of situation, especially considering that SPVM officers respond annually to 50,000 calls for people in crisis, he specifies in his report.

“Even more, the police must be as well equipped as possible to deal with the reality of today's society. Good basic training combined with maintenance and updating of skills as part of ongoing and mandatory training is essential. Finally, as with any learning, police officers must regularly put into practice the training received to always be at the top of their abilities,” he says. 

In recent years, various coroners have made recommendations in this regard. Me Malouin himself, in his public inquiry report into Mr. Alain Magloire's case, published in 2016, made such recommendations. 

New training offered to police officers

In recent years, the police approach to people with a mentally disturbed state has evolved considerably. Indeed, in 2019, the École nationale de police du Québec (ENPQ) developed and clarified the national model for the use of force, which presents communication as an important element. “Communication skills have been implemented in all ENPQ training courses,” says spokesperson Andrée Dorée.

The ENPQ has also set up a new de-escalation course that will be mandatory for all police officers. Approximately 300 police officers have been trained to date and it is expected that all officers will be trained within a maximum of 5 years. A distribution agreement is being finalized to make REMP (Response in Disturbed Mental State) training available to all Quebec police officers, specifies Ms. Dorée.

However, nothing is yet planned for requalification or maintenance of the skills acquired during this training.

The SPVM is not to be outdone when it comes to the new training offered to its police officers. The organization has also set up a new training course that includes de-escalation and containment (crowd control), and is aimed at all patrollers and supervisors. The organization aims to have all police officers and supervisors trained within 3 to 4 years.

However, as in the case of the Sûreté du Québec, no requalification or maintenance of skills is yet planned. The majority of police officers in Quebec currently do 30 hours of annual training for their requalification in various disciplines, which is insufficient according to Coroner Malouin.

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