OTTAWA – Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly says the force will not be doing random checks on citizens, despite new provincial orders giving them the power to do so.
“The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) continues to work in support of and in coordination with Ottawa Public Health, City of Ottawa Bylaw and our municipal partners to address the rising risks associated to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the OPS released in a statement yesterday (April 16).
The OPS is developing an implementation strategy for new measures and authorities announced (yesterday) by the province to enforce public health orders designed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“The cooperation of the residents of Ottawa has been the most important factor in the community response to COVID-19,” Sloly said. “We continue to rely on it, and we thank the residents of this city. We ask members of the public to follow the advice and guidelines of public health officials. All of these directives are new, and we will take the time needed to analyze the requirements, to assess the full impacts on our community and to work on risk mitigation before implementation. In order to maintain public trust and support our members in their work, it is important we get this right.”
Part of the provincial orders released yesterday include an effort to increase public compliance with the provincial Stay-at-Home order and stop the spread of COVID-19, amendments to an emergency order have been made that will provide police officers and other provincial offences officers enhanced authority to support the enforcement of Ontario’s Stay-at-Home order.
“We are carefully reviewing these new authorities,” Sloly said. “We are very mindful of the perceptions of the broader public as well as within our more marginalized, racialized and/or Indigenous/Aboriginal/Inuit peoples,” said Chief Sloly. “The OPS will continue to use a combination of education, engagement and enforcement. We do not want these powers to impact public trust. The public’s compliance with the Stay-at-Home order along with their collective effort to be healthy is our biggest strength and our best chance to manage this public health emergency.”
Under the updated orders, police have the authority to stop and make inquiries of individuals who are out in public spaces and not at their home address assess if the person is in compliance with the Stay-at-Home order. This authority requires such individuals to provide the officer(s) with their home address and purpose for leaving their home.
“The OPS will not be conducting random stops,” the OPS said. “We will be taking a deliberate and careful approach that emphasizes equity, legality and efficacy in the application of these authorities with the specific and exclusive purpose to support public health measures.”
Effective Monday, April 19, at 12:01 a.m., the government is also restricting travel into Ontario from the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec with the exception of purposes such as work, health care services, transportation and delivery of goods and services or exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights.
“The OPS is working with its policing partners on operational plans at interprovincial bridges in the Ottawa area and more information will be available by Sunday evening,” the OPS said.