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Improving Police-homeless Relations, Evidence from Montreal


Since 2017 the Old Brewery Mission and the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) have maintained a community-police partnership. Given the important time commitment from OBM and the partnership’s goal of improving police-homeless relations, OBM’s research department set out in 2018 to study officers’ perceptions of their work with homeless people.

A subsequent community-academic partnership was created between OBM and the University of Toronto, with Dr. Ayobami Laniyonu brought on to assist in the project.

The objectives of this research project are multiple: to evaluate the current initiatives to improve police-homeless relations, to better understand the perspective of officers working with individuals experiencing homelessness in Montreal and to better characterize the relationship between homeless-serving organizations and the SPVM.

Several distinct themes emerged from the interviews conducted with SPVM officers and the researchers have proposed several recommendations reflecting on current practices, organizational standards, and training for police officers. Many of the recommendations proposed are suggestions made by officers themselves.