MONTREAL, Nov. 20, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Thirty five Quebec Police Awards recipients -- including 10 Sûreté du Québec officers who responded to last January's tragic seniors residence fire in L'Isle Verte -- were honoured today for acts of bravery and dedication to duty during the 16th annual Quebec Police Awards gala, held at the Marriott Château Champlain in Montreal. The gala, hosted by Gino Paré -- an SQ officer and a 2004 Quebec Police Award winner -- was attended by about 300 guests from the province's police, political and business communities.
The selection of winners was made by the members of the gala's Board of Governance, who praised the exceptional work of all police officers throughout the province. In all, 35 police officers received a Quebec Police Award crystal at today's event. The crystal salutes courage, team spirit, perseverance and dedication to the community. This year's winners include:
SQ officers' bravery shines in tragic L'Île Verte seniors residence tragedy
Sadly, not every act of heroism ends happily. On the particular tragic night of January 22, 2014, flames were ravaging the Résidence du Havre seniors residence in L'Isle-Verte as all the occupants were still inside the inferno. Soon, 10 Sûreté du Québec officers were on the scene. While firemen tried to reach residents huddling on their balconies, the police officers entered the building. There was much smoke that grew increasingly thick. Besides the roar of the blaze and the sounds of the building about to break apart, there were cries for help.
Many residents weren't sufficiently mobile to find their way to the exits. So the 10 officers entered the residence without fire-masks or firefighting equipment, breaking down doors in order to reach residents. Some were still in their beds. The police officers carried or guided them to the exterior. But they didn't stop there. Despite it being minus-25, the officers transported the elderly victims to a nearby garage for security. Then, without hesitation, they returned to the burning building to help rescue others in distress, further imperilling their own lives. It's difficult to describe the intensity of those 30 minutes when time seemed to stand still. But we can imagine it. We can imagine the fear of suffocation that would take hold, even when your sense of duty required that you never abandon another human being.
Despite the 32 fatalities that resulted from the tragedy, we nevertheless pay homage to the bravery of those officers who, at great risk to themselves, were able to save a dozen elderly people facing certain death. Generally speaking, police officers play an important role in protecting the health and security of citizens. But in this particular case, we take special note of those whose courage brought honour to all others in their profession. These officers include:
From the Sûreté du Québec's Rivière-du-Loup detachment, officers Sébastien Briand, Simon Dufour, Steve Duguay, Mathieu Fournier, Jean-François Pépin and Myriam St-Onge. From the SQ's Basques detachment, Francis Marquis and Dominic Pellerin. And from the SQ's Bas-St-Laurent highway patrol detachment, Pascal Éric D'Amour and Steeve Guy.
The Maritime School of Haiti: impressive results by the SQ and the RCMP
The United Nations has a vast presence in Haiti. Among other things, it supports the creation and training of police forces throughout the country. In 2012, the United Nations mandated a team of Canadian police officers to supervise and mentor the Haitian coast guard.
At the outset of their mission, officers with the Sûreté du Québec and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's C Division conducted an assessment of the existing situation and concluded that any successful fulfillment of their mandate would entail the training of coast guards.
Within six months, and with the help of the Haitian police, the maritime team had already produced promising results: a 400-page training guide adapted for Haitian vessels; the establishment of teaching resources; the training of two Haitian instructors to continue the program after the departure of the Canadian officers.
After eight months, their achievements were even more impressive: a theoretical and practical training course of 34 days had been drafted and the first group of 24 cadets had been trained.
But by the end of 10 months, the achievements of the maritime team had become positively exceptional, including the creation of a nautical-navigation simulator. The team purchased and adapted software from the United States, attached the console to a ship's wheel salvaged from an abandoned vessel, hooked it up to a laptop with a video screen, and installed it in the training facility.
Two men were behind this act of humanitarianism, solidarity and professionalism; behind-the-scenes heroes who are worthy of receiving 2014 Quebec Police Awards:
Sergeant François Dubeau of the Sûreté du Québec and Constable Carl-Éric Lippke of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Project Combative: three police services target a criminal organization involved in the smuggling and trafficking of Romanian nationals in Canada
Canada is a big country; a place where people the world over aspire to live. But their dreams of a better life in Canada have also exposed many of them to exploitation. During 2012 and 2013, a large-scale investigation was launched by three law enforcement agencies in Quebec to halt human trafficking in this province. The victims were from Romania, and their route to Canada was through Mexico and the United States. Then they entered Quebec via unpatrolled roads in the Stanstead and Trout River area, or by water from the Akwesasne reserve near Cornwall, Ontario.
The main suspects responsible for the clandestine transit were identified and arrested in 2013, resulting in prison sentences and, ultimately, deportation. Since the conclusion of the operation, not a single instance of illegal entry from Romania to Canada has been documented.
Receiving 2014 Quebec Police Awards for their tireless efforts in this complicated case: From the Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Maxime St-Fleur, Jonathan Racicot, Victor De Moura, Dominique Boulianne, Mélanie Hammond, Cristian Dragan and Adriana Dragan. From the Canada Border Service Agency: Officer Charles Dudemaine, and from the Montreal Police Department: detectives Martin Lacerte and Denis Lalonde.
The hammer comes down on alleged political corruption, courtesy of the SQ, SPVM and Longueuil police
With the creation of a Quebec anti-corruption investigative policing unit, also known as the Marteau squad, police officers conducted yet another of their essential functions on behalf of society. The aim was to restore public confidence in public authorities; to keep the bidding process for public contracts open; and to protect the integrity of public institutions. This involved a crackdown on influence-peddling, collusion, embezzlement and other malfeasance that threaten fair market practices.
Toward that end, the Charbonneau Commission turned its focus on the administration of the City of Laval. Investigators interviewed 150 witnesses; conducted raids on the 8 biggest engineering firms in Quebec; compiled 30,000 hours of electronic surveillance and, finally, in May 2013, proceeded to arrest 37 persons, of whom three were accused of gangsterism. Let's not forget that this included the ex-mayor of the City of Laval, Gilles Vaillancourt.
Because confidence in our public institutions is also a measure of everyone's security, it is equally important to salute those who keep our institutions honest. That is why the following officers are being recognized with 2014 Quebec Police Awards:
From the Sûreté du Québec, Lieutenant Martin Cossette and Sergeants Manon Thomassin, Pierre-Luc Morin and Roberto Capone;
From the Montreal Police Department, Lieutenants Michel Leduc and Yannick Collins, as well as Sergeants Martin Chenevert, Martin Desforges and Laval Fillion;
From the Longueuil Municipal Police Service, Sergeant Mario Lauzon.
A plaque of honour is also awarded to analyst Olivier Barchechat, who played a critical role in the work of this extraordinary team of investigators.
Rescued in extremis in Matagami: a canoeist lost in the forest for 3 months is saved by 2 SQ officers
In July 2013, a man named Marco Lavoie set out on an ambitious two-month canoe trip north of Matagami in the deep forests of the Abitibi region of Quebec. But by the end of the first month, a bear had attacked his campsite. Later, Lavoie was wounded by a deer. By the end of the second month, he was unable to carry his canoe. After three months, he had almost nothing left, not even his dog, which he'd killed in order to eat. By the end of the third month, Lavoie was at the end of his rope. He'd lost 90 pounds and had perhaps 24 hours to live.
Then, just like in the movies, a helicopter appeared. Following a three-day search, a siren blared from the sky. The exhausted man dragged himself to the shore. He thought he was dreaming, especially when the helicopter disappeared again. It could only land a kilometre away.
It's from that distance that two Sûreté du Québec officers entered the forest, scouring the rocky, jagged and icy terrain where, after about 20 minutes, they found Lavoie, who'd spent his remaining energy to reach the shore so he could once again be seen by the helicopter. To bring him back, one officer carried the man on his back while another held him in place because the man was too weak to hold on to the first officer's neck. We can only imagine the drama of those three individuals, huddled together, struggling through the bush for a full hour.
The desperate canoeist's life was saved thanks to the tireless efforts of two outstanding SQ officers -- Valérie Caron and Alexandre Cotes.
SQ officer saves an infant from choking in the Saguenay
On February 11, 2014, at St-Honoré in the regional municipality of Fjord-du-Saguenay, something nearly unbelievable was about to take place. A Sûreté du Québec constable was parked by the road as he conducted a radar operation. Suddenly, over his radio, he heard an emergency call concerning a baby who was suffocating. By a remarkable coincidence, the officer was parked right next to the home from which the call had been placed. Twenty five seconds later, he was already performing emergency resuscitation to unblock the airways of the nine-month-old boy. (The officer himself was father to a seven-month-old boy.) Despite the emotion of the moment, calm and quiet determination guided the officer in dislodging a piece of a plastic bag which had become stuck in the little boy's throat.
This could simply have been the story of a good guy in the right place at the right time. But more than that, it was the story of a police officer who made all the difference in the life of that family, the difference between life and death. For his professionalism and steel will, Patrice Marchand is a deserving recipient of a 2014 Quebec Police Award.
SQ officer pulls woman from a burning car in Trois-Rivières
Around midnight in Trois-Rivières on September 4, 2014, a 23-year-old female driver suspected of being drunk behind the wheel skipped the curb on a highway exit. The car rolled several times before coming to a stop, resting on the driver's side. Then the motor caught fire.
The flames were sufficiently intense to ignite the surrounding trees. The interior of the vehicle filled with smoke. The young woman had only minor injuries but had gone into shock and was unable to exit the vehicle. But the rear window had broken, and Constable Christian Richard of the Sûreté du Québec, who had responded to the crash, managed to slip through, cut the woman's seat-belt, before pulling her to safety outside the vehicle. Seconds later, the vehicle was completely engulfed in flames.
Using his courage, altruism and sense of duty, the officer saved a life – the noblest act possible for a police officer. It is for this reason that Christian Richard is a worthy recipient of a 2014 Quebec Police Award.
Quebec Police Awards Board of Governance
The Quebec Police Awards gala is presided by a Board of Governance whose mandate is to examine all of the candidacies submitted, regardless of the origins of the policing organization. The Board is comprised of Pierre H. Cadieux, Jean-Pierre Charbonneau, Gaétan Delisle and Louise Mailhot.
A $5,000 donation to the Marie-Vincent Foundation
Proceeds from the Quebec Police Awards gala were presented by the Quebec Provincial Police Association's benevolent fund and by the Quebec Mounted Police Members' Association to the Marie-Vincent Foundation, a non-profit Montreal organization that, since 1975, has assisted victims, aged 12 and under, of sexual assault. The foundation works very closely with police in cases of sexual assaults against children.
SOURCE: Association des policières et policiers provinciaux du Québec
For further information: Laurent Arel, Communications, Quebec Provincial Police Association, (514) 823-8474 - [email protected]; Frederic Serre, Information officer, Quebec Mounted Police Members' Association, (438) 875-4217 - [email protected]