Police chief calls last week 'extremely difficult'
Ottawa's police chief is pushing back against a wave of bad publicity after two cases involving Ottawa police officers grabbed headlines over the last week.
The first case involves the arrest and strip search of an innocent woman; the second deals with a fight between an off-duty police officer and a taxi driver.
Ottawa police officers have not been convicted of criminal wrongdoing in either of the cases. However, Chief Vern White is concerned about damage to the public's perception of the Ottawa police force.
"Twenty-nine years of policing and the last week has been extremely difficult," White told CTV Ottawa on Tuesday.
Last month, a judge denounced the arrest and strip search of Stacy Bonds in 2008, calling it unlawful and an offense to human dignity.
Bonds, a 27-year-old theatrical make-up artist, was walking along Rideau Street when she was stopped by police. Although officers initially let her go, they arrested her for public intoxication when she asked why she had been stopped.
Bonds was then transported to Ottawa police headquarters on Elgin Street where her shirt and bra were cut off by a male officer.
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, which is called in to investigate any incident involving a police officer that ends in serious injury or death, is now probing the case.
White released a video statement last week to make sure the public knows how seriously he is taking the case. He says he's aware that trust between police and the public can be lost quickly.
"It's a fragile relationship we have. Many good deeds can go forward with people talking positively, and one bad deed will be identified as the one that makes a difference," White told CTV Ottawa.
The chief is also trying to mend his relationship with Ottawa's taxi drivers after an off-duty police officer was found not-guilty last week of assaulting a taxi driver.
The judge ruled the off-duty officer and the cab driver entered into a consensual fight that led to the cab driver breaking his wrist.
The off-duty officer was also accused of making racist remarks towards the taxi driver.
The police chief will meet with drivers to try to repair their relationship Tuesday night.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman