Police in the Regions: Initiatives to Build Bridges (Part I)

Many police projects are aimed at trying to bring police and the public closer together. With these often original initiatives, police want the public to feel more secure, and prevent crime.

By Marie-Claude Simard

Here is a short survey of some of the programs launched by different Quebec police forces. Some of these initiatives are on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Saguenay

With senior high school proms season approaching, to combat the problem of drunk driving the Saguenay Police Service (SPS) usually put on a play. The play, entitled IMPACT, was conceived in 2014 by officer Luc Tardif in collaboration with writer Annick Martel and director Louis Wauthier, who was also responsible for La Fabuleuse Histoire d’un Royaume.

The original idea came from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) who, once a year, present accident simulations to students leaving high school, in order to dissuade them from getting behind the wheel after having drunk too much or taken drugs. The SPS wanted to go beyond ordinary scenes of roadway horror, and touch students’ hearts.

 The curtain opens on a boy in a wheelchair. He became a quadriplegic the night of his prom, as the result of a road accident.  

The cast of 50 includes real police officers, firefighters, ambulance attendants, doctors, nurses and even a Crown prosecutor. A school principal and his wife play the roles of parents who lost their son in an accident. Thirty theatre arts students complete the cast list.

“Over the last three years, no driver under the age of 18 has been intercepted in Saguenay driving under the influence,” says officer Luc Tardif, the proud instigator of this project. It’s an hour well spent to dissuade people from committing a fatal error.

Sherbrooke

With the CoDeBars program, Sherbrooke police aim to help out bar owners by offering free non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers.

When they get to the bar, a designated driver is given a CoDeBars bracelet. That way they can drink at the same pace as their friends, but only non-alcoholic drinks.

“The idea came from a police officer on our team several years ago,” explains Alain Roy of the Sherbrooke police. “She explained that her children were often the designated drivers, but that their lemonades cost more than the others’ beers.”

Today, on codebars.ca, you can find the names of about 15 participating establishments in the Sherbrooke area. Police forces in Magog, Longueuil and Laval, among others, offer a similar program.

First seen in Reflet de Société, Vol. 29, no. 3, avril (April) 2021, pages 26-27

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