OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Police Service says it’s reintroducing its hate crime section as the numbers of such crimes continue to rise.

Officers in the section will monitor all hate crime reports. The police service says the new section will make it easier for residents to report hate-motivated incidents.

“Ottawa was the first police service in Canada to start a hate crimes unit. It has a proud tradition in that area,” Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly told CTV News.

“But for a number of reasons, the resources in those areas have moved away, and we got down to a very low level, one that wasn’t acceptable to our communities and not acceptable to our frontline officers.”

Reported hate crimes in Ottawa have increased over the last few years. Police received 110 reports in 2019, up from 104 in 2018 and 95 in 2017.

Sloly calls the rise in hate crimes in Ottawa and nationwide “alarming.”

He said the move to add two new hate crime investigators who will monitor all incoming hate crime reports was a result of community feedback.

Along with responding to incoming reports of hate-motivated incidents, the section will focus on preventing such incidents through public education, outreach and developing intelligence.

“We’re going to be able to do a better job of not just responding to hate crimes and hate incidents, but being proactive to prevent them in the first place,” Sloly said.

In 2017, Ottawa Police introduced online reporting for hate-motivated incidents. And last June, it changed its policy so that anyone can report hate-motivated incidents such as racist graffiti. In the past, such incidents had to be reported by the business or property owner.