Police officers across the country are neglecting proactive policing, according to new research.

Greg Brown, a Carleton University doctoral researcher, and former Ottawa Police homicide and drug investigator, has found that police officers in Ottawa and across Canada are increasingly choosing to “de-police.”

Brown says in some cases officers are turning a blind eye to potential crime or scaling back from discretionary duties when they are not called for service. This is being done for fear of public scrutiny if their actions are misinterpreted or misrepresented, according to Brown.

In other words, officers may choose not to pull someone over who is breaking the rules of the road, or they will not investigate a suspicious person. Instead, officers are waiting to be dispatched for a crime that comes in through 911.

Brown travelled country wide and interviewed more than 3600 officers from different cities - 382 were from Ottawa.

He says 70 per cent of officers surveyed are involved in some kind of ‘de-policing’. Brown found there were three main components to officers pulling back from interactions with the public.

“The first one is cell phone cameras,” Brown said.

“They see the police engaging with somebody, voices get elevated, suddenly there’s a physical confrontation, by then in most environments, like down here in the Market, there would be 10 people recording by the point.”

Brown also lists public scrutiny of police, and racial issues as key factors.   

“Things like allegations of excessive force, racial profiling, targeting certain areas or certain types of individuals. There’s disciplinary panels, human rights tribunals, the court of public opinion, media attention, public scrutiny, the way people would interpret YouTube videos of certain police events.”

By making his research public Brown hopes to create a discussion between police officers and the public.

Brown hopes to defend his thesis in August.

With files from Newstalk 580 CFRA.