The Ottawa Police Service is bringing back community policing. It is a major reversal from a program cut two years ago by former chief Charles Bordeleau.
According to a strategic direction report released on Tuesday, Ottawa Police will be creating neighbourhood teams to address local public safety concerns and enhance relationships with the community over the next 18 months.
Interim police chief Steve Bell says there will be three teams of eight officers in the high crime communities of Vanier, Caldwell and south Ottawa.
Bell says the move is not a reversal, but a reinvestment, “We really listened to the community. Our membership, our police services board, was really clear that we needed to reinvest in that community-based policing, neighbourhood-based policing. I think through our business plan, you’re seeing a really deliberate focus and plan to achieve that.”
Back in 2017, Ottawa Police overhauled how it deployed its officers as a cost-saving measure and reassigned more than 60 community-based officers to front-line patrol jobs. The changes have prompted business improvement associations and neighbourhood associations to complain over a lack of police response.
Councillor Diane Deans, who also acts as the chair of the Ottawa Police Service Board, has been calling for a return to community policing.
The strategic report also outlines three other key priorities over the next 18 months:
- Making progress on equity, diversity and inclusion
- Supporting members, and
- Modernizing the work environment