On balance it's been a good year for the Montreal police. The force's numerous investigations successfully scored a record amount of arrests in relation to organized crime. At one point, this summer, jails were literally overflowing with newly arrested prisoners.
The year also saw a record low number of police-related deaths and almost no controversies as compared to last year's fiasco crowned by the death of Fredy Villanueva .
The only glaring weakness remains the riot squad, which continues to be an embarrassment for the force and the city itself. Time after time, small disturbances turn into ugly riots because of the lack of planning and execution on the part of the police.
It seems that they've learned nothing from the earlier failures in Montreal North and the Hockey riots that occur on what seems like an annual basis.
On Tuesday they once again demonstrated poor planning by allowing demonstrators to disrupt the arrival of Prince Charles to a downtown armoury where he was scheduled to attend a ceremony to present new colours to the the Black watch Regiment.
The armoury is located on Bleury Street which leads to the downtown core. It's a busy and accessible street, but the block on which the Black Watch building sits is rather compact. It would have been incredibly easy to set up barriers at each end of the street and keep demonstrators away at a safe distance. Had police blocked access to the street a couple of hours in advance the whole affair would have unfolded differently.
It would have required just two or three police cars as well as some DO NOT CROSS barriers. It's not as if they can't do it or lack experience. At the conclusion of events at the Bell Centre all the streets adjacent to the arena are blocked by police to allow the building to be evacuated quickly. The same should have been done for the tiny block where the Black Watch building sits.
Instead the police stupidly allowed demonstrators to congregate directly in front of the doors of the building and when the police finally decided to clear the immediate area, the protesters held a sit-in which made things more difficult.
I'm not saying protesters shouldn't have the right to demonstrate, they should. But allowing them to butt right up to the building isn't wise.
A little planning would have averted all this. It's not as if the police were surprised, the demonstrators announced their intentions well in advance. The riot squad would never have had to be brought in had police engaged in a little preventative action.
The only reason that things didn't get ugly was the fact that the demonstrators were true to their word and other than tossing a few eggs, never became really violent or aggressive.
Much as I dislike the demonstrator's politics, they are to be commended for their conduct.