(Sherbrooke) The first women to join the Sherbrooke Police Service (SPS) had to break down doors to be accepted not only the population but also their co-workers.
Hired July 29, 1985, Brigitte Beaudoin and Maryse Fournier exercise against all odds to their chosen profession for over 30 years.
“Some colleagues have said outright that they would not work with us. Others are hidden under the pretense that it was their wives who would not. The director at the time were told that we would not spend 25 cents for us. We had to take the service as it was, “recalls Maryse Fournier.
“There was even a petition to that one is put out. The police station and even the equipment were not made to receive us. There was no dressing room for women and we had to put shirts and men’s trousers at the beginning of our career, “added Brigitte Beaudoin.
Maryse Fournier, however, that several male colleagues noticed that women in the police force could be complementary to men’s work.
The latter rose through the ranks to reach the lieutenant.
“I was first sergeant and first lieutenant. There was negative sides, yes, but I’ve had good teammates and super good boss. I even started to say thank you on the air and say first names instead of using codes. It’s been less machine more human, “she said.
Brigitte Beaudoin was barely 12 when she decided she would be police, even if there were no similar model.
“I drove into the lot that can happen. Every time we did something, it made history in some way. I would start tomorrow morning in 1985, despite all the pitfalls, “says Brigitte Beaudoin.
A warm welcome
Now captain’s Safe Environments division, Guylaine Perron has received a warm welcome on arrival at Metro-Police in Lennoxville in 1986 before joining the SPS during the merger.
“The population was not prepared to be arrested by a woman. There are several guys who left stop without having to use force. The feminine approach changed the procedure. Interventions are quietly become more verbal than physical, “says Guylaine Perron.
“We had no choice. When you do not have arms, we must have the jaws. Our strength is more limited, it was more dialogue. Some drunk guy wanted to be arrested by a woman instead of trying to fight with a male police officer. Seeing women in the police has surprised many people, “said Maryse Fournier.
Guylaine Perron had to fight with the CSST to be removed from the work while she was pregnant with her first child in 1988.
“I spent four months without pay. My boss thought that I could not do my regular work, but the CSST merely calculate the kilometers that I spent in the patrol vehicle every day. They refused to take me to work. The case was publicized. I got benefits from the time when all the guys at the station have a right to refuse to work with me. Guys have protected me, “she recalls.
Nathalie Lessard worked at the SPS from 1991. The five years that separate her sisters had allowed customs to evolve.
“I do not feel the need to prove my skills. There was a great evolution between my job and those of the first policewomen in Sherbrooke, “said Nathalie Lessard.
Now detectives in the Criminal Investigation Division particularly in sexual crimes, Brigitte Beaudoin, Maryse Fournier and Nathalie Lessard believe that feminine approach is complementary to that of men with the victims.
In 2016, the SPS has 56 female officers on staff to 241 people.
Robert Pedneault contributed to the advent of women in SPS
This is partly thanks to the men of the caliber of Robert Pedneault police that the integration of women in the police force was facilitated Sherbrooke.
The director of the Police Service of Sherbrooke, who is retiring Friday, sees as an interesting addition that of women in the profession he held for 35 years.
With Paulin Aubé, Robert Pedneault insisted that the pioneers in Sherbrooke Police Service are built into his patrol team.
“If we go back thirty years ago, the police were very closed and the place of women was marginal. Police were male and macho. Even as police man, he had to break this closed circle and acceptance. You should not miss our shot at our first calls. At that time it was a revolution that women come in with us, “recalls Robert Pedneault.
Present at all major operations that took place in Sherbrooke during the past 25 years, the founder of the intervention group (GI), Robert Pedneault has also helped to facilitate the inclusion of women in the police profession. As a union officer, he also worked to improve conditions.
“The inappropriate comments toward women made no sense. We invited the first police to come and work on our team. We were maybe a bit overprotective. There was no one who was to sicken them. There was no question of hitting our policewomen or speak their evil, “says one who has climbed the ladder in the SPS.
Robert Pedneault remembers a time when the evening ends were muscled with 17 bars, taverns and hotels on Wellington Street Depot to Frontenac.
“There were fights hotel. The national sport was to fight with the police. Some men arrested by police woman certainly hesitate to use force fear of being humiliated in front of their friends. When working on domestic violence, the arrival of women has been a considerable asset. A female victim does not usually talk with a man. The police could not do without women in their ranks, “said Robert Pedneault.
He argues that the first women in the SPS broke barriers.
“The police was an exclusive trade to the guys, so they were pioneers. Our police were solid. They made their way inch by inch in the organization. The advent of women in the police has revolutionized the approach. They promote dialogue by adopting a more human approach. We are much more effective through this, “said Robert Pedneault.