Chief battles internal grumbling over Bonds case
A judge ruled last month that Stacy Bonds was treated unlawfully by Ottawa police officers when she was arrested in September 2008. Photo courtesy: Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa's police chief is battling internal grumbling among rank and file police officers about how he's responding to the Stacy Bonds case.
Ottawa city councillors have received hundreds of emails from residents expressing concern over the treatment of Bonds who was pinned down and strip searched at Ottawa police headquarters after an unlawful arrest.
Chief Vern White has also responded personally to hundreds of calls and emails from upset residents. Some residents are so angry, they are calling 911 to complain –- something they're asked not to do.
White says officers feel their integrity is being questioned. He also says his service has never experienced this level of concern from the public.
Public outrage spread in recent days after the Ottawa Citizen obtained video of Bonds' treatment through a court order. A judge referred to it as an ‘indignity toward a human being.'
Surveillance video released last week shows Bonds struggling with several officers in the Ottawa police holding area. She is kneed in the back, and pinned to the floor.
While on the floor, a male police officer uses scissors to cut off her shirt and bra. She is then left in a jail cell without a top, and with soiled pants for three hours before she's given a jump suit.
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit is now looking into whether Bonds was sexually assaulted. The investigation prevents the chief from commenting on specific details of the case.
Last week, White publicly stated he wants changes to be made to Ontario's Police Services Act to give police chiefs more power to discipline problem officers.
He added the police officers involved in the Stacy Bonds case must be held accountable for their actions.
"I will guarantee that in this case this service and the membership will be held to account as well -- for their actions and our actions as an organization," White told the police services board last week.
The chief has also ordered retraining on cell block protocols, as well as new orders advising officers when they should make an arrest for public intoxication.
White will meet with leaders of the police units on Tuesday to ask officers to get past the emotion of the case and try to allow the process to run its course. Over the next two days, deputy chiefs will also meet with members of Ottawa's six police platoons.
White will brief Ottawa's incoming mayor on the case after he is sworn in to office on Wednesday.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Kate Eggins