9th annual Quebec police awards - 29 police officers who made a difference are honoured



    MONTREAL, Dec. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - The 9th annual Quebec Police Awards gala
was held today as the province's top police unions honoured 29 frontline
police officers for acts of bravery and dedication to duty. During the gala,
held at the Marriott Château Champlain Hotel, the unions also presented a
special award to the Coalition For Gun Control on this, the 18th anniversary
of the Ecole Polytechnique tragedy, in which 14 women were gunned down by a
man armed with a military-style semi-automatic rifle.
    The event took place before a crowd of more than 400 people from the
union, legal, political and business communities. The gala is an opportunity
for the province's police unions and associations to salute the outstanding
work of their colleagues. It was hosted by former Radio-Canada journalist
Alexandre Dumas.
    In presenting a special award to the Coalition For Gun Control, the
police unions and associations reiterated their support for the current gun
registry legislation at a time when the government of Canada has introduced a
bill that amends the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act to repeal the
requirement to obtain a registration certificate for long arms (rifles and
shotguns). Coalition co-founder and president Wendy Cukier accepted the award
and spoke to the gala, thanking the associations for recognition made to the
Coalition and for the police unions' support.

    29 awards recipients

    This year, 29 police officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,
Sûreté du Québec, Montreal, Quebec and Saguenay police services, as well as
the Roussillon Inter-municipal Police Service received Quebec Police Awards
for acts of courage, community involvement and investigations.
    Four awards were also presented to police officers who exemplified
commitment and outstanding service in the police union sector during their
careers. The four recipients included Réjean Corriveau,
Raymond-Marie D'Astous, André Nadon and Pierre Vincent.

    A police union initiative

    The gala is an initiative of Quebec's police unions, and is organized by
the Quebec Mounted Police Members' Association (QMPMA), the Association des
policières et policiers provinciaux du Québec (APPQ), the Fédération des
policiers et policières municipaux du Québec (FPMQ) and the Fraternité des
policiers et policières de Montréal (FPPM).
    During the gala, Gaétan Delisle, founder of the QMPMA, Jean-Guy Dagenais,
president of the APPQ, Denis Côté, president of the FPMQ and Yves Francoeur,
president of the FPPM congratulated the awards recipients. The union leaders
said they were proud to represent Quebec's frontline police officers, "who
show utmost professionalism in carrying out their duties." They also saluted
the exceptional contributions of the four police union recipients who spent
their careers protecting the rights of police officers in Quebec.

    Distinguished guests

    Guests from the police, legal and business communities, as well as
politicians from all levels, attended the gala. Among them: Sylvie Roy,
Lotbinière MNA and official opposition critic for public security; Robert
Lafrenière, deputy minister assigned to police matters, prevention and public
security services; Pierre H. Cadieux, former solicitor general of Canada and
member of the Privy Council; Senators Francis Fox, Jean Lapointe,
Pierre-Claude Nolin and Lucie Pépin; and representatives of Quebec Police
Awards sponsors belairdirect and Ford of Canada.

    A donation for children's foundation

    All proceeds from the 2007 gala will be donated by the four organizing
police associations to the Foundation For Research Into Children's Diseases.
For the ninth consecutive year, the respective police union foundations
presented a $6,000 cheque to the children's foundation spokesperson at the
close of the gala.
    The organizing police associations represent more than 13,000 Quebec
police officers.

    
                               2007 Recipients



                       Marriott Château Champlain Hotel

                               December 6, 2007


    Football program lures kids away from the street
    Montreal Police Service

    For the past 15 years, a Montreal Police Service community initiative has
brought countless young people who live in underprivileged areas of the city
together to play football. This outstanding initiative has successfully lured
youth away from a life of crime and gangs through recreational activities.
    The man behind the program is Sgt.-Det. George Widz, a tireless visionary
who has volunteered his time and energy to keeping the project exciting and
worthwhile. Indeed, Mr. Widz launched the project, dubbed Come play with my
gang as part of the Access Football organization, and the program has been met
with stunning success.
    The program has been such a success that players from the McGill
University Redmen football club have provided their skills as coaches and as
mentors. Access Football has also allowed the Montreal Police Service to
strengthen its links with companies and community groups who are involved in
the project.
    Sgt.-Det. Widz decided in 2006 to expand the program, bringing football to
several primary schools in the city's southwest region, where poverty is quite
high. From the project's inception, Mr. Widz has proudly presented himself as
a Montreal police officer who believes in the future of young people, and has
steadfastly insisted on the project being associated with the Montreal Police
Service. More than 300 youth participated in the spring and fall seasons of
2006, and that number is expected to rise in 2007.
    Access Football is a remarkable project in which the Montreal Police
Service has created positive connections with young people who feel lured by
the street. As a result, these youths have been introduced to drug prevention
programs and mentorship, thus keeping them away from street gangs and crime.
    For his dedication to youth, for his commitment to his community and for
his tireless volunteer work, we honour George Widz with a 2007 Quebec Police
Award.


    More than 30 years of selfless dedication to helping drug-addicted youth
    Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    At age 55, RCMP Constable Carol Locas has not lost any of the passion for
life and human generosity that has been his trademark since joining the
national police force more than 33 years ago. His years of dedication to the
community of St. Jérôme's youth are well known across the province among
police and community groups, and serve as an example of the ideal mentorship
program for young people caught in the grips of drug and alcohol addiction.
    In fact, even with retirement looming in 2009, Constable Locas, who heads
the Drugs and Organised Crime Awareness Service in the Laurentians town of
St. Jérôme, says he has no intention of walking away from the volunteer work
he has carried out in the community, by visiting schools and being a mentor to
kids in need. And with Locas still in the picture after retirement, it means
teens will continue to have the smiling police officer to turn to in their
time of need.
    In May 2006, Constable Locas was invited to Rideau Hall in Ottawa by
Governor General Michaelle Jean and presented with the Order of Merit of the
Police Forces. The Order recognizes conspicuous merit and exceptional service
by members and employees of the Canadian police forces whose contributions
extend beyond protection of the community.
    While Carol Locas's accomplishments are plenty, it is his volunteer work
that has captured the hearts of community groups, teachers and organizations
that work with troubled youth. Maison Portage of St. Jérôme has recognized his
efforts in helping kids fight drugs, and continues to uphold the mentorship
programs that he has introduced.
    Mr. Locas is also recognised across the province for his efforts in
raising funds for community groups through the Quebec Mounted Police Members'
Association and its charitable foundation, which donates thousands of dollars
annually.
    For Carol Locas - an avid cyclist and sports enthusiast - the key to
reaching troubled kids is through showing them a passion for life. "I believe
in that, and I want to show kids how to find it because everyone has a
passion."
    For Carol Locas, the job of being a police officer is first and foremost
to help people. "When someone calls 911, you want to be there for them. And
that's what it's all about," says Locas.
    In recognition of his 30 years of selfless dedication to young people and
for bringing hope to the lives of troubled teens, we honour Constable Carol
Locas with a 2007 Quebec Police Award.


    Public service goes beyond the badge
    Sûreté du Québec

    For all police officers, the decision to embark on a law enforcement
career is motivated by the desire to serve the public. It is this desire that
energizes front-line police officers as they conduct their work, day in and
day out.
    Constable Bruno Beaulieu is an athlete and a man with a big heart. Over
and above his job as a Sûreté du Québec police officer, he has also dedicated
himself to supporting Olympic events for the handicapped. Mr. Beaulieu will
represent all Quebec police officers when he travels to Shanghai in 2009 to
carry the Olympic flame during the fund-raising Law Enforcement Torch Run.
Serving the public is more than just a job for Bruno Beaulieu; it is a duty
and a life philosophy that he carries with him in everything that he does.
    For his selfless dedication to helping the public and for his commitment
to social causes, we honour Bruno Beaulieu with a 2007 Quebec Police Award.


    Community involvement is solid as a Rock for this Saguenay police officer
    Sécurité publique de Saguenay

    Rock Gilbert has served as a police officer in the Saguenay region since
1978. He has worked in various capacities within the merged towns of Jonquière
and Saguenay and its municipal police services, and today is the officer in
charge of community relations and crime prevention. Mr. Gilbert is dedicated
and committed to his community and to his fellow officers. Citizens continue
to support him and appreciate his exceptional dedication, his availability and
his professionalism.
    His accomplishments are many, but here are a few of his community
involvements:

    - He has been a member of the Jonquière Pee-Wee organizing committee for
      21 years;
    - In 1997, he launched a police museum inside the Jonquière police
      station. When the station moved to a new location in 2005, he
      coordinated a project that launched a historical centre dedicated to
      the Saguenay police for local citizens and history buffs;
    - For the past six years, he has worked with groups that assist
      immigrants so that their integration into Quebec society might be
      facilitated.

    Rock Gilbert has merited recognition for his police work:

    - He was officially recognized by the local Member of Parliament in 1996
      for his public relations work during the Saguenay floods;
    - He was presented with citations of merit by the local suicide
      prevention centre in 2002 and 2004;
    - He was a Jacques Couture Prize finalist in 2007 for his work in
      promoting intercultural unity. The prize was presented by Quebec's
      ministry of immigration and cultural affairs.

    For his exceptional dedication and his community involvement, we honour
Rock Gilbert with a 2007 Quebec Police Award.


    United police investigation brings down drug trafficking network
    Sûreté du Québec
    Royal Canadian Mounted Police
    Timiskaming Police Service
    Ontario Provincial Police

    Operation Abords

    Criminal networks are like sci-fi monsters - you can cut off their heads,
but they keep growing back. That is why police agencies must work harder and
more ingeniously, and it is why police investigations into drug trafficking
activity by criminal organisations are so lengthy and difficult. There is the
initial information-gathering phase where the identities of the networks'
leaders must be identified, as well as the rest of the players, including
suppliers and dealers on the street, the location of the drugs and how they
are transported. The second phase involves police operations - everything from
infiltrating the gang, and physical, video and electronic surveillance. And
finally, there comes the day when police conduct their raids. In the case of
Operation Abords, 16 people were arrested and convicted to prison sentences.
    Operation Abords would never have ended successfully had the Sûreté du
Québec, the RCMP, First Nations' police services and the Ontario Provincial
Police not united their resources and personnel. This strong unity made the
difference in bringing order back to the affected communities. Maintaining
public order is a responsibility that surpasses the colour and logo of the
uniform. Quebec Police Awards were created to salute professionalism and
dedication to duty. In some cases, the awards are presented to individuals and
sometimes they are presented to teams. After all, police work is also
teamwork, where each individual brings his/her energy and talent.
    For their remarkable work, professionalism and tenacity in bring Operation
Abords to its successful conclusion, in which 16 members of a criminal network
were sent to jail, we present Quebec Police Awards to Sûreté du Québec
constables Claude Barrette, Serge Bertrand, André Chartré, Daniel Gauthier,
Stéphane Mailloux, Christian Michaud, François Pichette and Alain Trottier,
and to constables Isabelle Coursol and Jonathan Moreau of the RCMP, and to
Robert Millette of the Timiskaming Police Service, and to Yvan Godin of the
Ontario Provincial Police.


    Dynamism, teamwork and professionalism
    Sûreté du Québec

    Competence, performance, dedication and self-sacrifice are the defining
characteristics that embody all Quebec Police Awards recipients. With less
than 10 years of service under his belt, Sûreté du Québec Constable Bruno
Soucy is already a model of inspiration for his colleagues on the front lines.
Indeed, his skills as an investigator and his qualities as a person were
particularly evident during two major investigations - operations Crystal and
Cleopatra. These two specific investigations required the contribution of
police officers from various services and demanded their energy, skills and
consistency for periods of months, and even years.
    As a dedicated investigator, Bruno Soucy showed dynamism, teamwork and
exemplified his ability to forge strong ties with law enforcement officers
from various police agencies during the length of both operations. He also
demonstrated great generosity and professionalism. For all that he has brought
to the job of policing, we present Bruno Soucy with a 2007 Quebec Police
Award.


    Operation Chamonix highlights clever police work in the dismantling of a
    Mexican drug network at the port of Montreal
    Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    Projet Chamonix

    On May 28, 2007 a vigilant Canada Border Services Agency guard searched a
container at the port of Montreal and discovered approximately 160 kilograms
of cocaine hidden in buckets of frozen mango purée. The container, which had
arrived from Mexico, was immediately seized and RCMP investigators were called
in. This investigation, dubbed Project Chamonix, led to an international probe
into the trafficking of cocaine from Mexico to Canada. Finally, on June 9,
2007, the leading figures of this cocaine cartel were arrested after being
caught red-handed, as part of a massive sweep by RCMP officers. This operation
also brought a swift end to a Mexican criminal organization that had been
operating in Canada since 2005.
    The undercover operation, orchestrated by the RCMP's anti-drug unit, with
the participation of the Marine Security Enforcement Team and the port of
Montréal Security Group, allowed the drug traffickers to believe that the
cocaine had successfully been brought into Montreal from Mexico, and was being
distributed across Canada.
    Using sophisticated policing techniques and ingenious work, RCMP
investigators were able to replace the cocaine in the mango purée with a
placebo product before allowing the large shipment to be picked up from the
port of Montreal. All police had to do was sit back and wait for the shipment
to be picked up by traffickers - the entire operation tracked and observed by
RCMP officers. Officers then moved in and plucked the criminals, one by one.
    "It was done in an environment where it is very difficult for criminals to
detect a police presence," said RCMP Staff Sgt. André Potvin, responsible for
Operations of C Division's Drug Section..
    The clever police operation led to the arrest of four Mexicans, who had
created a bogus company in Montreal called Quality Mexport that facilitated
the illegal importation of the drug into Montreal.
    "This investigation brought an end to this international network and
prevented nearly two million cocaine doses from hitting the streets of
Montreal, Quebec and Canada," said Potvin. "Furthermore, this operation
confirmed that police officers are keeping a close eye on anyone who wants to
use the port of Montreal for any illicit means."
    "A total of 20 investigators dedicated long hours every day to see this
operation to its successful conclusion," said Potvin. "The officers being
honoured by Quebec Police Awards are being particularly singled out for their
leadership and outstanding work. These police officers played first-rate roles
in the success of this operation."
    Two of the officers cannot be identified, as they are still involved in
undercover work.
    For having distinguished themselves with leadership and for their
extraordinary work in coordinating a first-rate plan in the success of this
operation, we present the following police officers with 2007 Quebec Police
Awards : Sergeants Guy Lemay, René Beauchesne and Serge Bertrand,
Constable Martin Lemoine and agents X and Y.


    A dramatic rescue on the edge of a cliff
    Roussillon Inter-municipal Police Service

    At 3:30 on the morning of January 18, 2006, officers with the Roussillon
Inter-municipal Police Service attempt to stop a vehicle for a traffic
violation in Delson. The driver refuses to stop and a chase is under way.
Officers stop the pursuit because of the dangerous road conditions, but visual
contact is maintained with the suspect's vehicle. The driver loses control of
his vehicle, which comes to a halt. However, moments later, the suspect runs
away from the vehicle and jumps into a river, where the ice has given way
under his weight. The man manages to reach the shore on the other side before
making a run for the woods.
    Maxime Paquette and his colleagues arrive on the scene. They see that the
suspect has sustained cuts to his hands after jumping over a barb-wired fence
and sliding down a hill. Paquette and his partner climb over the fence and
locate the man, who is struggling to hang on to a ledge of the cliff that
overlooks a sudden, 200-foot drop. The man complains that he cannot feel his
legs, as hypothermia is setting in, and that he will lose consciousness.
Without hesitation, Paquette decides to perform a rescue attempt. The surface
of the hill is very icy, so the officer decides to tie a pair of ropes around
his waist, while his colleagues hold on to the other ends of the ropes as he
makes the descent. Paquette reaches the injured man and grabs hold of him just
as he loses consciousness. Paquette is having trouble holding the man as the
severe weather and ground conditions make the operation that much more
difficult. It is very windy and hail is falling, as Paquette is only about a
dozen inches from the edge of the cliff. A rope is tied to the man's pants.
Suddenly the individual regains consciousness and becomes agitated before
fainting again. An hour passes before fire fighters finally reach the scene
and rescue the individual. Paquette, meanwhile, manages to climb the hill with
the help of his colleagues. Both Paquette and the man are taken to hospital.
    For the determination and courage that he showed in saving a man in severe
conditions, a 2007 Quebec Police Award is presented to Sgt.-Det. Maxime
Paquette.


    Two rookies show determination to save a suicidal man
    Sûreté du Québec

    Maintaining public order is the first and foremost mandate of all police
services - a mandate whose actions can sometimes be perceived in a negative
light by the public. But when those actions end up saving lives, the reaction
is unanimous. Sûreté du Québec constables Guillaume Cotte and Danick Dubé are
two young police officers who have only merely begun their careers. But on a
warm July 8, 2007, they quickly showed that they are guided by a strong
motivation to serve the public. The two rookies were called to a residence to
check out a report that someone wanted to commit suicide. On the scene, Cotte
and Dubé conducted an intense search of the residence.
    Upon hearing a car's engine running in the garage, the officers noticed
that every access to the garage was locked. Using a shovel and a crowbar, the
constables tore a small hole in a door to reach the lock. However, the
suicidal man barricaded himself, prompting the constables to keep pounding
away at the door until the hole was big enough to enter. The rookies
immediately entered the garage and successfully pulled out the man.
    For their relentless work in saving a suicidal man, and for the passion
that they showed in carrying out their public duty, we honour Guillaune Cotte
and Danick Dubé with 2007 Quebec Police Awards.


    Two constables save a suicidal man twice
    Quebec City Police Service

    On September 23, 2005, the Quebec Police Service receives a call from a
suicide prevention centre about a man who is threatening to kill himself on
the Plains of Abraham. The call is tricky for police, as there is no
information about the precise location of the despondent individual.
    Constables Christine Deraîche and Marie-Eve Gosselin respond to the call,
but when they reach the scene, the officers have very few details about the
specific whereabouts of the man. They then successfully locate a vehicle that
matches the description of the man's car. The two constables conduct a
thorough search of the area around the car before noticing a flickering blue
light coming from behind a set of bushes. The light is coming from a cell
phone. As the constables approach the bushes, they see that a man is hanging
from a tree. They immediately take action, with Const. Gosselin untying the
knot from the rope as Const. Deraîche lifts the man, until they are able to
place him on the ground. The officers take the man's vital signs. He is still
alive and regains consciousness before the ambulance arrives. The man,
however, grows very agitated and a scuffle breaks out with the constables. The
man then makes a run for a nearby cliff and attempts to jump, but Gosselin and
Deraîche tackle him to the ground, narrowly falling off the cliff themselves.
    For the professionalism and exemplary empathy that they showed in dealing
with a very desperate man, we honour Christine Deraîche and Marie-Eve Gosselin
with 2007 Quebec Police Awards.


    A true leader and a man of vision for police tactical operations
    Montreal Police Service

    Richard Thouin joined the Montreal Police Service on August 5, 1985, and
has spent 17 of the past 21 years as a member of the Montreal Police Tactical
Squad. On September 13, 2006, during the tragic shooting at College Dawson,
scores of police officers who raced to the scene were able to count on the
outstanding training that they had received from Richard Thouin. That's
because in the wake of two shooting tragedies at the Ecole Polytechnique and
Concordia University, Sgt. Thouin took the initiative to identify new measures
that the Montreal Police Service needed to take to respond to any potential
future mass shootings. He underwent specialized training and then brought that
expertise to fellow Montreal police officers. Richard Thouin trained members
of the tactical team and the department's community intervention units.
    Richard Thouin currently heads a committee of the Montreal Police Service
that oversees the implementation of emergency response programs and the
training of senior officers in charge of emergency response teams. He has
played a pioneering role in the training of groups specialized in hostage
rescues. He was also a member of a provincial government committee studying
high-risk issues, as part of a public security ministry's initiative into
emergency preparedness.
    In the spring of 2005, Richard Thouin introduced a workshop that dealt
with the coordination and tactical responses during high-risk incidents. He is
also one of the planners behind armed intervention response protocols for the
Montreal Police Service. He is often selected to be the department's tactical
unit spokesperson during media interviews. Sgt. Thouin always shows great
leadership and poise - two qualities which served him well during the four
years that he served as a municipal councillor in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac.
    His exceptional work resulted in Richard Thouin being named special
advisor to the tactical squad commander during major incidents, as well as
serving as interim commander on several occasions.
    In saluting his dedication to public security and for his expertise in the
development of emergency response measures, we honour Richard Thouin with a
2007 Quebec Police Award.


    Gun Control Coalition honoured for its work in providing a safer
    environment for all Canadians

    Unprecedented tragedy struck Canada on a cold December 6, 1989 when
14 young women were gunned down at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique by a man
armed with a military-style semi-automatic Ruger Mini-14 rifle. In the wake of
this deadly mass murder, a movement swept across Canada, calling for better
gun control measures to be imposed by the federal government. Ecole
Polytechnique students launched a nation-wide petition demanding an end to
military weapons, while a group was formed in Toronto that began looking at
proposals to control and tighten gun circulation and ownership. Thus the
Coalition for Gun Control was founded in 1991 through the efforts of Wendy
Cukier, a law teacher at Ryerson University in Toronto and by Heidi Rathjen, a
student at Ecole Polytechnique. The Coalition's mission was to reduce the
number of deaths, injuries and crimes caused by guns.
    Through its determination and relentless focus, the Coalition successfully
sensitized the federal government to adopt laws calling for stricter gun
controls, despite steady lobbying on the part of pro-gun organizations. The
Coalition's efforts led to the following developments:

    - In 1991, Bill C-17 tightened restrictions and established controls on
      any firearms that had a military or paramilitary appearance. It also
      established new rules about procedures governing gun ownership and the
      secure storage of weapons. The bill prohibited certain military weapons
      and high-capacity magazines for semi-automatic and automatic rifles.
    - In 1995, Bill C-68 introduced new, stricter, gun control legislation.
      Amongst others things, the legislation provided registration of all
      firearms.
    - In 2000, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled that the gun
      control law was constitutional.
    - Between 2003 and 2006, the Gun Control Coalition introduced a crime
      prevention program in partnership with the National Crime Prevention
      Centre and other organizations. The program was aimed at preventing
      crime, violence and suicide, and to shed light on the effects of
      weapons on victims of crime.

    Today, the Coalition has the support of more than 350 organizations,
including Quebec's police unions and associations.
    Because of the tireless work of the Gun Control Coalition, Canadian
society is now a more secure and conscious environment. Indeed, the number of
deaths linked to guns is at its lowest rate in 30 years and, in comparison to
1991, shows 500 less fatalities annually.
    For its remarkable contribution to improving the safety of communities
across Canada, we present a Quebec Police Award to the Gun Control Coalition.
    




For further information:

For further information: Christine Beaulieu, Communications director,
Fédération des policiers et policières municipaux du Québec, (514) 356-3321,
ext. 226, (514) 248-7955, cbeaulieu@fpmq.org; Frederic Serre, Information
officer, Quebec Mounted Police Members' Association, (514) 524-8212,
fsimedia@videotron.ca; Martin Viau, Director of research and communications,
Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal, (514) 527-4161,
martinv@fppm.qc.ca

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