Residents of the Town of Mount Royal weigh in on how they feel about the borough’s patrol team
The team of 23 agents that make up the Town of Mount Royal’s (TMR) public security force guard 20,000 people 24 hours a day, with the collective goal of keeping everyone safe.
TMR’s patrol unit focuses mainly on crime prevention. If a family is going on vacation, for example, they can request that security come verify the outside of their house daily by walking the perimeter, collecting the mail and making sure the house does not appear like an easy target for would-be thieves. When the few late-night businesses are closing, as the rest of the neighbourhood sleeps, a patrol car is posted nearby to make sure things go smoothly.
While a police officer has the power to arrest and works under the Criminal Code and the Highway Code, a security patrol person does not have the authority to place people under arrest. A patrol officer follows and enforces municipal bylaws regarding issues such as parking and noise complaints. In cases involving moving violations with a vehicle, the patrol officer calls in the police. Police officers and public security have separate functions, but work closely together. In fact, the security headquarters in TMR is next door to the police station and the firehouse.
Cherlyne Telemaque-Rafuse, a late-night employee at the Couche-Tard in the centre of the town, appreciates the patrol’s service. “I thought it was a good idea to have the security waiting for us,” she said. “Even though the store closes at midnight, if I have to stay until 12:15 a.m., they stay until I am ready to go.” She said the streets are empty around this time, and knowing that someone is there to step in if need be puts her mind at ease.
Since the patrol began nearly 36 years ago, the town’s public security has taken the residents’ safety into their own hands by offering numerous services, such as a child identity booklet and a medical booklet for seniors. The child identity booklet consists of the child’s fingerprints, the parents’ information, a picture of the child and a pouch for a DNA sample—a strand of hair for example. The booklet provides all the necessary information to be handed over to police if a child goes missing. The senior identification booklet discloses the senior’s identification, medical information, family doctor’s details as well as an emergency contact, in case the person gets disoriented and lost, or hurt while alone in public. These tools make it easier for police officers in the event of an emergency.
A big event for security is an annual festival called Summerfest. In late June, the town organizes the fair which features a ferris wheel, live music, food trucks and fireworks. The festivities attract people of all ages, from all neighbourhoods, making it one of the busiest nights of the year for the team. TMR public security’s director André Maratta makes sure that everything goes smoothly on the night of the festivities.
Maratta was a police officer for 37 years before joining Mount-Royal’s public security force and has been their director for the past 10 years. Though his daily schedule consists of managing the budget and dealing with neighbourly disputes concerning land surveying and overseeing protocol, director Maratta makes sure to hit the streets, particularly during Summerfest.
Though the town provides numerous services for its citizens, some are left unsatisfied. Livia Venneri, a 19-year-old TMR resident and McGill student wishes that the town and public security would offer more for young adults. She said making sure some late-night spots could be stay open for teens, such as coffee shops or parks, would be appealing for her. “The town dies at 6 p.m.,” she said. Venneri also said she wants agents to “have less of a condescending attitude when they do intervene.”