Relations are deteriorating within Ottawa Police
Published Friday, March 18, 2016 5:53PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 18, 2016 6:45PM EDT
Relations are deteriorating within Ottawa Police, growing more toxic by the day.
The Ottawa Police Association is asking the chair of the Police Services Board to resign. The union head is suggesting the chief of police misled them.
There has been a series of letters going back and forth as a debate over the effectiveness of leadership at the police force grows bitterer.
The latest letter Friday comes from Matt Skof, president of the Ottawa Police Association, writing “media coverage has increasingly exposed issues within the executive leadership and the police services board" El-Chantiry, says Skof, should resign.
Eli El-Chantiry responded, saying the views of a veteran police officer, who sent a force-wide email criticizing the police chief and the way patrol officers were treated, only reflected the views of one person and were not an indication of discontent within the general rank and file.
That prompted anger among officers and the union, which says it has brought similar complaints forward in the past. Matt Skof says it's all part of a wider issue that has been dragging on for months -- and now it's time for change.
Here is a sample of the letters exchanged between the police association the police services board chair and the Ottawa Police Association:
Letter from Matt Skof - President, Ottawa Police Association
Media coverage of the Ottawa Police Service over the last six weeks has increasingly exposed issues within the Executive Leadership and the Police Services Board. Today’s coverage is particularly troubling as it raises the most serious of allegations, including malfeasance and failure to properly respond by not only the Ottawa Police Services Board but also the provincial oversight of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.
Following a meeting with Deputy Chief Jill Skinner in the summer of 2015 the Association commenced an investigation into the recommendations coming from the Service Initiative project. That investigation quickly led us to a report the Chief of Police presented to the Police Services Board in July 2015 wherein he concluded that a number of major police services in Ontario had private security performing court security functions. The report to the PSB went further to suggest that the privatization of the Ottawa Court was supported by the Attorney General. By simply calling these other major services we were able to quickly determine that the Chief’s comments were inaccurate.
The Association then demanded the production of confidential documents from the Service Initiative project, a legal right that we possess within the collective bargaining framework set out by the PSA. Prior to our contract arbitration in December the employer eventually presented us with 661 confidential documents from SI. These documents, along with other sources, quickly confirmed that the authors of the Report which the Chief signed and presented were not just inaccurate in their conclusions but were misleading the Board. Internal reports left no doubt that these other major services were not using private security, contrary to the assertions made by the Chief before the PSB. Further investigation revealed that there was no contact with senior representatives of the Ministry of the Attorney General.
The Association was very careful to weigh the impact of these discoveries in deciding how to proceed with this information. Having sought the opinion of two separate and independent law firms, the Association concluded that it would file complaints both with the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police and the Office of the Independent Review Director. Both of those agencies passed on taking any actions with the OIPRD concluding, quite remarkably, that an investigation of the Chief’s misleading the PSB was “not in the public interest”.
We want to assure the OPA membership that our six month investigation provided more than adequate evidence to proceed with irrefutable allegations against the Chief and the Ottawa PSB.
These are not easy subjects to address – these events are not at all consistent with the professional work that our members perform every day in every part of the Ottawa Police Service. The OPA has every confidence that the men and women who put on the uniform every day will continue to demonstrate integrity, professionalism and perseverance. Our members remain committed to the Ottawa Community.
Letter from Eli El-Chantiry - Chair, Ottawa Police Services Board
In light of the media attention on the Ottawa Police Service this week, I asked OPA President Skof to have a face to face meeting. He declined that opportunity.
The Ottawa Police Services Board is the oversight agency for police in Ottawa. We take that role seriously. I take my role as Chair seriously as well.
The entire Board fulfills its role and responsibilities very well. I have no intention of resigning.
The members of the Ottawa Police provide excellent service to the residents of Ottawa. I support them in their work.
They have a difficult job. I appreciate that and I understand there are frustrations.
The Chief and Senior Officers have outlined a strategy to respond to the Members survey. That work is ongoing.
Mr. Skof’s frustration over the broader systems that govern policing oversight in Ontario are not solved by criticizing my leadership as Chair. The Ministry is currently carrying out discussion on the changes to the Police Service Act.
Mr. Skof should make his views known through that process.
We continue to want to work with the OPA but, for the good of the Service and the community, that dialogue should be carried out face to face. It is not constructive when it is carried out only in the media. Therefore, I will not be providing further comments.
Letter from Cst. Paul Heffler
Chief, I believe you are missing a few things in the open letter. I'm aware that I am not qualified to speak as I have not bought into the inbred system of self promotion however these points I believe are important.
Proactive policing, where the rubber meets the road, namely patrol, has been driven out of this service. There is precious little to be gained for officers whose intention is to truly serve and protect. There is much to be gained for officers who want to police for the sake of recognition and promotion. Your ghost warning investigation isn't a symptom of corrupt cops, it's a symptom of a corrupt system. But I digress.
Race data collection. PSS interference in officers using RMS for investigative purposes (mainly because patrol officers are kept in the dark pertaining to these or any investigations). Little to no feedback for information provided down the one way information highway we like to call street checks. Little support for officers who do street checks and traffic stops and are subjected to false racial accusations by the exact same persons who are involved in all this gun play. These are all instrumental in the actions that are being played out on the streets. These subjects who are involved in drug and gang activity know that uniform have restricted ability in powers in identifying and searching persons and vehicles. Restricting the powers of patrol and demoralizing it results in investigative services having to rely on source information and reactive investigation . Source information is a beautiful way for these fine citizens to engage in whatever activity they like, knowing that a "patch", is only a phone call away. These elements of society need to fear the justice system and the instrument which operates on it's behalf, but they don't. They have been offered the upper hand by this city and they have taken it.
I understand there are many variables in the forces at play on the streets and others will surely disagree with my take. However, the most important variable has been and is, the one that works 24 hours , 7 days a week and has it's finger on the pulse of the city while you and yours are sleeping. This service does not seem to recognize that a well educated, well informed, motivated, supported patrol section will solve 90% of your and this communities' problems.
Instead, committees are formed and reformed, micro sections expanded and duplicated , another grandiose plan for the future of policing visa vie SI (due when the new radio system is implemented I assume) is promised all while patrol and the will to work patrol erodes . Pumping unwilling bodies into patrol will not solve it either, making patrol a desirable destination will. There are a hundred places to hide in this organization if you want to. What is needed is less reward for hiding and more inspiration and support for doing the basic job for which we were all first hired (well, most of us).
There are few services and businesses that pay their employees $100000.00 salaries and treat them like they are dime store security guards. However that is what happens here.
As a taxpayer and officer
pixels for pistols is dead ...long live pixels for pistols
"Here's to the New Centurions...lets hope they do better than the last ones"