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Protect community policing after meaningful consultation, Leiper to tell Police Services Board

(via Councillor Jeff Leiper)

A successful model of community policing may be in jeopardy as a result of changes by the Ottawa Police Service, but a new update doesn’t provide enough details to know, Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper will tell the Police Services Board on April 25. At that meeting, the Board will consider a sweeping reform of how the OPS will deliver services as part of its Strategic Initiative.

A community policing model built on officers with specific knowledge of a neighbourhood’s geography, culture and history was critical to addressing drug houses in several Kitchissippi neighbourhoods several years ago. Changes to that model, which allowed officers to work in close cooperation with other City agencies over a period of often months or even years, should be treated extremely carefully, he will argue.

“A community officer with an intimate knowledge of a neighbourhood is key to its safety. Local offices provide a safe space for people to have sensitive conversations with police. Community officers become trusted faces in the community, constantly building through ground-level contact the information they need to effectively work with multiple partners to address persistent issues,” Leiper intends to tell the Board. “The update provides no details on whether that will continue, or whether community police centres will stay open.”

Leiper will present to the Board since the update report being provided at the meeting contains too few details to be sure that major changes won’t endanger a model that has worked in Kitchissippi for years, including neighbourhood officers, community officers and community police centres.

“The update speaks to consultation including ‘awareness efforts to ensure understanding of the projects and gather public feedback,’” Leiper noted ahead of the meeting. “Plans are currently being finalized internally, and residents want to know that important changes can still be made.”