Fady Dagher desires to be Montreal’s subsequent police chief
Fady Dagher has been selected as the new chief of the Montreal police service (SPVM), the city has confirmed.
Dagher, who is currently the head of the Longueuil police service, will take over the Montreal police force following the retirement of former chief Sylvain Caron last March. Sophie Roy has since been serving as interim police chief.
An official announcement will be made Thursday afternoon at City Hall.
Dagher, who holds a Master’s degree in business administration from McGill University, has been the chief of police in Longueuil since February 2017 but he is no stranger to Montreal.
He has 25 years of experience working at the SPVM in various roles, including assistant director of police from 2013 to 2017. He also served in other roles in Montreal, including inspector and commander.
A job posting for the new SPVM chief went online back in October, but the official search for the position started months earlier and included public consultations with 700 people and community groups who weighed in on the future of policing in Quebec’s largest city.
The recommendations from those consultations included the need for better communication from the chief, transparency, and accountability. Attracting officers from more diverse backgrounds was also a request from the public.
On Montreal’s South Shore, he led an effort in recent months to recruit more non-white police officers on the Longueuil force in order to make the rank-and-file more representative of the community it serves.
Dagher, who was born and raised in the Ivory Coast, said in a 2021 interview with CTV News that the initiative was meant to build trust among youth and build bridges with minority communities.
On Thursday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante will announce Dagher as the top pick by a selection committee tasked with finding Caron’s replacement. The city’s executive committee will have a chance to vote on the selection by Dec. 22, before it has to be ratified by the Quebec government, likely in the New Year.
‘HISTORIC’ APPOINTMENT, ACTIVIST SAYS
The appointment, as far as Fo Niemi is concerned, marks a significant chapter in Montreal’s history.
“This is a major, historic development — possibly one of the greatest developments in policing in Montreal in recent years — because of who he is, because of his track record, because Mr. Dagher has vision, and also his ability to bring different people together around the issue of public safety,” said Niemi, the head of the Montreal-based civil rights group, Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR).
His background, along with his several years of policing experience in the Montreal area, makes Dagher an ideal selection for taking the city’s police force in a new direction, according to Niemi.
Niemi said he’s optimistic the new chief can help build bridges with racialized communities.
“When you talk about equity, diversity, inclusion, and policing, he’s the man. I think he’s the man of the hour, he’s the man of the future, and he can help bring the Montreal police department into the kind of future that we all dreamt about for quite some time,” he said.
Dagher was also praised by outsiders for introducing a new policing model in Longueuil, one that includes a foot patrol unit that deals specifically with people facing social issues such as homelessness and mental illness.
The Reseau d’entraide sociale et organisationnelle (RESO) initiative is still in its infancy but was hailed a milestone in rethinking policing culture and received a $3.6 million commitment from the province over three years.
Retired Montreal police officer Andre Durocher said it will be interesting to see whether Dagher will bring the same kind of initiatives with the new job.
The selection comes at a sensitive time. Caron retired early from the SPVM in the fallout of the wrongful arrest of Mamadi Camara, and the force is currently in collective bargaining talks with the police brotherhood — an area where a new chief might face some resistance.
“I’m sure that a lot of Montreal police officers are a lot more concerned about settling their work contract at the moment than they are about implementing a new concept of policing. Not that they’re against it or anything, but those are the things that Mr. Dagher will have to address,” Durocher said.
Overall, Dagher’s will be a significant asset to the SPVM, according to Durocher, who worked alongside the incoming chief when Dagher was a commander in Montreal’s Saint-Michel neighborhood.
The search is now on for a new police chief on the South Shore. Longueuil Mayor Catherine Fournier issued a statement Wednesday night to congratulate Dagher on his successful bid.
“Within the SPAL, with the work of his team and the support of the entire police force, Mr. Dagher contributed to the implementation of a vision of cooperation that is unique in Quebec and which, in our opinion, is THE vision of the future , of which the agglomeration of Longueuil has become the standard bearer. He also leaves behind a healthy police force, with a solid succession and an enviable record in terms of crime on the territory,” said the mayor in a written statement.
The city said it would announce a transition plan for the Longueuil police at a later date.
With files from CTV News’ Stéphane Giroux