Provincial Police Raid Montreal Police Headquarters
Quebec provincial police raided the Montreal police force's downtown headquarters Thursday in connection with allegations of fraud and breach of trust against the chief's right-hand man.
In an interview Friday morning, Chief Philippe Pichet confirmed the Sûreté du Québec is looking into allegations involving issues with overtime hours and bonuses his chief of staff, Imad Sawaya, received in 2015.
Pichet said those issues have already been verified and there were no anomalies, but someone has tipped off the SQ's mixed squad, set up by Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux to investigate the force's internal affairs, to potential problems.
Sawaya has not been arrested and the Montreal police are collaborating with the SQ on the ongoing investigation, Pichet said.
The SQ's deputy chief informed Pichet around 4 p.m. ET Thursday that search warrants would be executed at different buildings belonging to the City of Montreal in connection with the probe.
Members of the SQ's team arrived at headquarters of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) around 6 p.m. Pichet said he was still at his office at the time.
They were looking for a specific file, he said. Pichet also said the investigation has no impact on the day-to-day service the force provides Montrealers.
"I know it's big, seeing the headquarters of the SPVM being searched, but ... [investigators] are doing their job, they're going to look at all the information and it's important to make sure we're [shedding] light on the file," he said.
Pichet said to his knowledge, this is the first time the SPVM's headquarters have been searched.
Pichet spent the night meeting with other high-ranking officers and said he has to inform the people concerned before speaking further about the case.
The SQ team searched the third and seventh floors, where the operational planning division and human resources are located, Pichet said.
Radio-Canada originally reported the raids targeted the building's fourth and ninth floors.
The fourth floor is where internal affairs was located until last winter. Meanwhile, the ninth floor is for the top brass.
The SQ also conducted searches at a local police station, a municipal building, and the Montreal police's archives. No private homes were searched, he said.
The raids come as Montreal police attempt to improve transparency in the wake of scandals involving its internal affairs division.