The Urban Brigade is a field operations initiative designed to provide a management framework for festive events and crowd control. In the past, these services were provided through officers in various neighbourhood police stations.The Urban Brigade operates only in the summer. Made up of police personnel from various operational units, the Brigade forms an autonomous unit run by the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) Operational Planning Division. It includes bicycle officers, specialist officers trained in physical control of aggressive crowds, police cadets (some years) and a management team. It is housed in strategically selected premises close to downtown, where 90% of our 700 public order tasks take place. The number of personnel assigned to the Brigade ranges from 90 to 120 police officers and cadets, depending on identified needs.
Initial objectives of the initiative are numerous: improve the services provided to the public, maintain residents’ sense of security, support neighbourhood stations in executing their action plans and, especially, free them from the need to allocate resources for festive events. As a result, neighbourhood stations can focus on their mission with their regular personnel resources and increase their operational effectiveness. Through various agreements with personnel and a flexible work schedule, we are able to control Brigade operating costs while minimizing the financial burden on neighbourhood stations.The Urban Brigade receives specific training on both festive event and crowd management. The increasing numbers of events managed by the Brigade, year after year, mean that it is more and more efficient and effective at dealing with such operations and makes an essential contribution to the efficiency objectives that the SPVM has always set for itself.
Operations Branch via Operational Planning Division
Reduction of overtime costs and efficiency gains for planned operations are certainly the fundamental objectives of the initiative. Forestalling of repeated requests for personnel from basic community service units helps those units to execute their action plans and contributes to maintaining the high level of effectiveness that the SPVM achieves year after year.
Costs associated with this initiative vary according to the number of assigned officers and the material resources needed to attain operational status.On average, from 2009 to 2011, we had:
The first edition, in 2009, began as a pilot project. Implementation is reviewed annually, taking into account needs and available budgets.
Since 2009, this initiative has served to rationalize police personnel demand for public order tasks. Reductions can also be attributed to police efforts to raise awareness among event promoters of our personnel limitations and budget constraints, shifting the onus onto event organizers to provide for their own security needs.Specialization and the expertise acquired by the Brigade have improved operations at festive events, better positioned our personnel and, most importantly, allowed us to innovate in our approach to handling these events. Our division, through this initiative and a culture of continuous improvement, contributes to enhancing our efficiency.
The Urban Brigade:
Evaluation of this initiative is ongoing. Event promoters and elected officials stress that it is certainly helping to support the efforts by the city of Montreal to maintain its status as a festive city. Because of the variety of events and constantly evolving social context, the Urban Brigade does not have a specific quantitative target. It needs to be high-performing, present and active in the community, throughout its operations.
As illustrated in the document, increased efficiency and an innovative way to manage festive events are the cornerstones of this initiative. The creation of the Brigade certainly helps to free up the various frontline service units from calls to assign their personnel, and gives them more leeway to carry out the activities in their action plans. Further, we note that feedback obtained from promoters and the public leads us to believe the initiative is contributing to maintaining Montreal’s reputation as a welcoming, festive and safe city, primarily in summer when most festive events take place.
In 2012, Quebec’s social context was strongly influenced by the student conflict. The situation led to a change in the mission and composition of the Urban Brigade. Police cadets did not join the unit that year. Risk response specialist officers were added to cycle patrols in order to support neighbourhood stations in their management of the student crisis.