The incredible career of the first policewoman in Quebec
Despite the walls to be broken down, the “macho” comments and the judgment she had to endure in the 1970s, the first female police officer in Quebec would no doubt no longer want to exercise this profession today, considering the pressure imposed on agents.
“Don't get me wrong, from the police, I eat it, and still to this day, if I see a patrol car leaving after someone, I follow it and I'll see what's going on,” Nicole Juteau says straight away. , retired from the Sûreté du Québec, bursting out laughing.
“But today, everyone films the police, they can no longer question anyone for fear of finding themselves in ethics, they are constantly walking on eggshells. It’s really not easy to do this job in 2022”, she continues.
Met in a cafe in Rosemont as part of the release of her biography entitled The Téméraire, the 68-year-old woman with a slightly hoarse voice still exudes an infectious energy.
Freedom and full of confidence, the pride of having been the first woman to wear a badge, uniform and weapon is fully felt.
Sworn in in 1975, in the middle of International Women's Year, Nicole Juteau received her share of inappropriate comments and had to work much harder than some men to earn the trust of her peers and superiors.
She finally succeeded after several years of hard work. After six years as a patrol officer, she joined the organized crime squad, where she frequently served as a double agent.
As women became scarce in the police, she was able to afford arrest of many traffickers by buying drugs from them when they suspected nothing.
She ended her career in criminal intelligence, in the midst of the biker war. The “patched” had even given her a nickname, “aunt”, in reference to the testimony of a trafficker who had sworn to the judge never to have sold her drugs.
He knew that she was a “double” because she looked like an “aunt,” he said during his testimony.
“There were lots of bikers in the courtroom and everyone started laughing,” she says, laughing in turn. After that, they started calling me aunt. They were right. This time, I must have been 40 years old and I had arranged myself as a pitoune in a bar where the girls were on average 18 years old.
Against the quotas
Nicole Juteau is delighted to see that thousands of young female police officers have been able to follow in her footsteps since her swearing in nearly 50 years ago.
However, she is skeptical about the practices of certain police services which establish quotas in order to get more women in their ranks.
“I was able to be a police officer because I was good, not because I was a woman, she said, convinced. I was always very proud of that, I made my place, I was better than a lot of men on some levels and I think we should always choose the best, regardless of gender.”
She poses in front of a patrol car at the start of her career in 1976.
As she was the first female police officer, Nicole Juteau did not have a uniform in her size for a few years. She had to put on a men's shirt, while pinning the fabric between the buttons at her chest to avoid “accidents”. He had also been given a tie that was too long and a kepi that was too big, to which stuffing had been added to prevent it from falling in his face. The shoes represented a real challenge for the SQ, which ended up providing him with a pair of nuns' shoes… with heels. It wasn't until two years later that he was given boots and real work shoes. As the winter coat provided to the men was way too big, Nicole had to wear her own ski coat during her first winter on patrol. Nothing to help with his credibility, she said. She was also given a purse, which earned her teasing for a long time.
The bullying festival
Her early years as a police officer were marked by indecent and sexist behavior and remarks. She was far from laughing when her male colleagues chased her around the station to unfasten her bra or emptied the contents of her purse on a table to find out if she was taking birth control pills. It has also had its share of arrogant citizens. She remembers an exchange with a motorcyclist at the beginning of her career, which is recounted in her book.
“– Hey, a policewoman, come see this, guys!
< p>He had a fat laugh. He wore his patches with pride, like his buddies. Nicole didn't take her eyes off him. Neither did his partner.
– I'm wondering that, ma'am: for the rape of a policewoman, do you get the same sentence as for the rape of an ordinary woman?
Despite the surprise, Nicole had reacted very coldly. She had turned her hips just enough for the biker to see her gun.
– No, it’s not the same sentence. The sentence is that here.
And she had put her hand on her weapon. The biker had widened his eyes.
– OK, OK, calm down, I was just kidding.
– Never make jokes about that.”
The policewoman was an excellent shooter during her practices and had even won shooting competitions.
When she was hired at the SQ in Shawinigan, the laws in place did not yet allow her to patrol and carry a weapon. Her superiors therefore found all kinds of tasks for her to do in the office and she felt that she did not really belong. Her colleagues even began to nickname her “Rien Juteau” so much her role in the post was abstract, can we read in the biography written by Annie Roy, a high school history teacher. When she was finally able to go on the road, her superior systematically called everyone she stopped on her patrols to make sure she was doing it properly. At the same time, the wives of his colleagues had even put pressure on their husbands and the bosses to prevent Nicole from patrolling with them.
“It was not just a question of seduction, they were afraid that I would steal their husband. In addition, they did not have confidence in my physical abilities. They didn't want me to work with their husband because they thought I was going to put them in danger,” reads an excerpt from the book The Téméraire.
A contract not to pursue CEGEP
As women were not allowed to enroll in police techniques, Nicole Juteau entered CEGEP in the correctional officer program, the one that was most similar to what she wanted. After her first semester, she took advantage of the presence of a new guidance counselor to apply for a program change. Not knowing the rules, he accepted her transfer.
She found herself shortly afterwards in the director's office, where she signed a waiver in which she committed herself to never go on to CEGEP if she couldn't find a job after her training.
Big blow in Beauce
Mrs. Juneau disguised as Nicky, his character for his undercover operations.
In 1986, Nicole Juteau was called to go to Beauce to infiltrate the Hôtel Saint-Georges, where major drug trafficking was suspected. Paired with another police officer, the two women began to buy small quantities, evening after evening, with the ultimate goal of going back to the supplier. They played the role of old friends who wanted to forget men.
“When I arrived in a bar, I took the floor, she says, with a smile on her lips. I took up space, I spoke loudly, everyone knew my story pretty quickly.”
This is how Nicole Juteau, alias “Nicky”, developed a relationship of trust with the main trafficker and had the opportunity to place a larger order with him. On the evening of the “deal”, when the drugs and the money were exchanged, the double agent subtly waved the small scarf around her neck to give the signal to the investigators. She and the trafficker were therefore arrested at the scene and then brought to the station. Shortly after, as she was bombarded with handshakes and hugs in celebration, the trafficker attempted to commit suicide by hanging in his cell. To this day, Nicole Juteau remains shaken by this event.
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