To the Editor,
Dear Community Members,
I am providing you an update on policing efforts during this public health emergency called the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) is working closely with Ottawa Public Health (OPH), who is leading the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa. Community health and well-being must be at the forefront of this emergency.
We know that this is a difficult time for residents of Ottawa. Thank you for staying home, practicing physical distancing, and avoiding gatherings. These are very important measures that we all need to continue to protect public safety and well-being. By staying apart, we can reduce the spread of this terrible virus in our community.
I also know there are many concerns about this emergency and how vulnerable groups could be impacted in our city – women and children facing domestic violence, children and youth, seniors, people with disabilities, homeless and street involved people, newcomers and racialized communities, people with mental health concerns, and other marginalized groups.
Here is how we are working together to address concerns and protect communities during this emergency:
- Engagement and Education: We are working with public health and other city partners to ensure the focus is on a public health. Together we are focused on education and warnings first and foremost – to ensure compliance. Issuing tickets is a last resort (for example, repeat complaints).
- Requesting Identifying Information: OPS will support Ottawa Bylaw who is the lead for enforcement of the emergency act. There are strict rules when we can ask residents for identifying information (for example to issue a ticket under the act). It will not be used for any other purpose.
- Supervision: Supervisors will be involved when an officer decides to move from public education and warnings to enforcement of the emergency act.
- Training: Officers have completed human rights and bias awareness training. They are also receiving regular updates and training for policing during this emergency.
- Reporting & Monitoring: We will be transparent and provide regular updates for OPS enforcement activities.
We will continue to work in partnership with city and community partners like the Community Equity Council to ensure professional, ethical, and equitable policing.
You are encouraged to visit Ottawa Public Health’s website for more information, tips and resources about COVID-19.
Be safe and stay well.
Peter Sloly, Chief of Police