Montreal’s chief of police has suspended a high-ranking police officer, following Thursday’s unprecedented raid by Quebec provincial police of the city’s police headquarters as part of an investigation into alleged fraud and breach of trust.
Montreal Police Chief Philippe Pichet announced in a terse post on Twitter Friday that the officer’s suspension is effective immediately and will be in place until an investigation is complete.
Earlier, Pichet confirmed that provincial police investigators were looking into allegations of improper overtime hours and bonuses billed by his right-hand man, Imad Sawaya, dating back to 2015.
While the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), the provincial police force, and Montreal police often cooperate in complex investigations involving organized crime or terrorism, the two police forces are completely independent of each other.
The SQ’s mixed squad, which specializes in internal affairs investigations, arrived at the downtown headquarters of the Montreal police Thursday evening with a search warrant related to the investigation against Sawaya.
The SQ also searched a Montreal police station located in the trendy Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood and other locations during the raid.
Sawaya has not been arrested and the municipal police force is collaborating with the SQ in the investigation, Pichet said.
The investigation has had no impact on the day-to-day operations of the police force, Pichet said.
“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, using the French acronym for Montreal police (Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal).
Pichet said he was informed of the police raid to execute search warrants Thursday afternoon.
Pichet said to his knowledge, this is the first time the municipal police headquarters have been searched.
With files from CBC News
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