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Ottawa police plan to target hot spots, high harm offenders in ByWard Market area this spring

Ottawa Police headquarters on Elgin St. is seen in this undated photo. (CTV News Ottawa) Ottawa Police headquarters on Elgin St. is seen in this undated photo. (CTV News Ottawa)
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Ottawa police are planning to target hot spots for crime and use focused enforcement for "high harm offenders" this spring, as part of a new action plan to address safety concerns in the ByWard Market and on Rideau Street.

A report for the Ottawa Police Services Board outlines plans for a new Community Outreach Response and Engagement Strategy (CORE), which includes an increased presence in the tourist area and a new neighbourhood operations centre in the Rideau Centre opening at the end of May.

Police plan to deploy "intermittent, highly visible patrols" in areas identified as having the "highest concentration of crime," including along Rideau Street between Sussex Drive and King Edward Avenue, to deter crime and provide support to vulnerable individuals, according to the report. A blitz is planned for this spring that will use data analytics and community partner engagement to identify locations and businesses "most affected by crime and social disorder."

The short-term benefits to the new strategy include "increased police visibility in high harm areas," while the medium-term benefits will be "enhanced community safety and well-being and improved community perceptions of safety," staff say.

The Ontario government and the city of Ottawa announced a new deal for the city in late March, which included $48 million over three years to address community and public safety. The funding will cover an increase in uniformed police officers in the ByWard Market and on the transit system, along with alternative mental health supports. Staff say the Community Outreach Response and Engagement Strategy is a central element of the plan.

Police say there are five interconnected initiatives as part of the CORE strategy. The five initiatives are:

  • Neighbourhood Operations Centre in the Rideau Centre.
  • An Integrated Community Situation Table that "employs partnerships and community support to provide immediate, coordinated interventions for the most vulnerable, at-risk individuals," the report says,
  • Police targeting hot spots of high crime concentration with increased visibility of law enforcement officers and community partners, "with the intent of deterring crime and improving perceptions of public safety," staff says,
  • Focused enforcement identifying high-harm offenders and directing swift enforcement action to "curtail and deter further offending."
  • A Community Advisory Board to lead the CORE strategy, coordinating efforts across agencies for multi-agency improvements and long-term solutions.

"The OPS CORE Strategy represents a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to addressing the challenges of crime and social disorder in downtown Ottawa," the report says.

"The implementation of targeted initiatives like hot spot policing, focused enforcement, and the ICST demonstrates a commitment to adaptive and responsive community policing."

Police say the long-term benefits of the new strategy include "strong, productive relationships with community partners" and "healthy, resilient and safe communities."

Here is a look at some elements of the Ottawa Police Service's Community Outreach Response and Engagement Strategy (CORE). 

Hot Spots

The report for the Ottawa Police Services Board outlines hot spots along Rideau Street near the ByWard Market and in Lowertown.

Police say officers will deploy "intermittent, highly visible patrols."

"Additionally, by leveraging data and information sharing agreements with our partners, other stakeholders like OC Transpo and the City of Ottawa Community Engagement Team, will also direct their efforts to these hot spot areas. Our combined efforts will both deter crime and direct supports to vulnerable individuals," the report says.

A "Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design blitz (CPTED)" is planned for the late spring.

"This will involve the use of data analytics and community partner engagement to identify locations and businesses most affected by crime and social disorder," the report says. "OPS officers will offer CPTED audits to identified locations and provide follow-up engagement to identify and address environmental and situational factors impacting crime and social disorder."

A report for the Ottawa Police Services Board shows hot spots in the ByWard Market and Rideau Street area based on highest Crime Severity Index of primary offences between Feb. 19 and March 17, 2024. (Ottawa Police Services Board/report)

Focused Enforcement

The report says that Ottawa police will identify repeat high harm offenders, using data analysis, for focused enforcement initiatives in the Rideau Street and ByWard Market area. The high harm offenders include individuals involved in serious and violent crime such as random assaults, robberies, drug trafficking and gang activity.

"These offenders will be the focus of direct and swift enforcement actions by specialized police units such as our Neighbourhood Resource Teams (NRTs)," staff say. "These focused enforcement efforts will begin in the second quarter of 2024."

Neighbourhood Operations Centre

Ottawa police are preparing to open the new Neighbourhood Operations Centre on the first floor of the Rideau Centre this spring, with street access to Rideau Street. The new police station is expected to open at the end of May.

"This centralized location in a busy area near the ByWard Market provides police with an accessible base of operations, improves perceptions of safety with an established police presence, and improves resource efficiency by reducing displacement to and from Elgin Street Headquarters," police said.

The Neighbourhood Resources Team and Community Police will use the centre to coordinate operations, hold briefings and host community meetings.

Due to staffing constraints, the facility will not be accessible to the public during the first phase of operations this year.

The Ottawa Police Services Board will discus the new CORE Strategy and Neighbourhood Operations Centre implementation plan during Monday's board meeting.

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