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175 years walking the beat*

Discover the police world
Published on
April 3, 2018
The Service de police de Montréal (SPVM) will be celebrating its 175th birthday in 2018, and for the occasion, a fleet of four retro-style vehicles meanders through city streets, events will take place at various police stations, and a book about Montréal’s police officers has been published.

A book right from the field

Get up close and personal with police work and the reality of police officers’ daily lives in different Montréal neighborhoods, thanks to Officer Martin Desmarais’ book “10-05, en devoir depuis 175 ans”, wonderfully illustrated with hundreds of pictures.

Martin Desmarais

A few years ago, while reading an article from the Police Museum, this curious and talented officer had the idea to provide, both through words and pictures, an insider’s view of police work. He thus took up touring all of the island’s police stations and specialized units, in order to spend a day in every one of them and document his experience.

“I started the project in 2013, among all my other tasks, and completed it last summer, in 2017. I felt welcome everywhere I went and discovered that police officers are proud to work in Montréal. Much like when new players join the Montréal Canadiens, in joining our police force, we discover a rich history and background, as our police force is one of the oldest in North America.”

Toutes les photos du livre sont du policier Desmarais

Anchored in their neighborhoods

Aside from adding an historic touch thanks to the contribution of historian and Commander Sylvain Bissonnette, Martin organized his book in the chronological order of emergence of our city’s neighborhoods. It is for this reason that Ville-Marie leads the way, followed by central neighborhoods, leaving the suburban stations to close the series. Did you know that the SPVM serves and protects all of the island’s municipalities, not only Montréal? Furthermore, the book provides insight on the social and economic realities of every area.

Vol de vélo ou personne intoxiquée et confuse?

The testimonies documented by the author show just how moved his colleagues feel by what they see on a daily basis, “because we usually call the police when things are not all right.”


The day had started on a positive note, I thought. With the warmer temperature, it’s nice to roll down the window as I patrol. I even had the chance to grab a coffee with the boys, under the bridge, before it all got crazy. I was ready! The accident with injuries, the argument between tenant and owner, the homeless man who bothered passersby and the gas leak, kept me quite busy as my evening began. But then two parents decided to end their day yelling at each other. 

The shirt stays behind, the images don't 

Parents hollering at each other, I’ve seen time and time again, I can deal with that. Obviously, I don’t necessarily approve of the behavior… but alas, I need to harden my shell so I can keep going. It’s my job. But to see them do it at 12:45 a.m., with an 18-month old boy wearing only a diaper, watching them from beneath the kitchen table… that’s a hard one to eject from my visual memory. On that call, it is the child I was hoping to help.

Every time I take off my shirt, images scroll by. Some make me smile. Unfortunately, they are few and far between. All right! I’m going home. My son is waiting.

Be on the lookout

Un véhicule de la Flotte héritage (style 1930)

Have you come across one of the four Dodge Chargers, bearing the colors of the 1931-1972 patrol cars, on the streets of Montréal? They were a part of the Saint-Patrick’s parade, mid-March and you may still spot them just around the corners, in replacement of the regular patrol cars that are away for repairs.

This is yet another way for Montréal’s police force to highlight its anniversary. In every one of the island’s neighborhoods, there will be some sort of celebration, starting during the week of May 13 to 19. Some of these events will take place as part of borough festivities, while others will come in the form of discussions concerning the ins and outs of police work, over a cup of coffee.

10-05, écrit par Martin Desmarais

You may purchase the book “10-05, en devoir depuis 175 ans” at the SPVM headquarters, located at 1441, rue Saint-Urbain (Saint-Laurent or Place-des-Arts metro stations) or in bookstores.


“Walking the beat” means patrolling on foot, in a neighborhood, in order to get a feel for what is going on, to observe and to assess activity. It is the oldest kind of patrol. For that matter, when the SPVM acquired its first vehicle, a prisoner van, none of Montréal’s officers knew how to drive... They had to hire a driver!