Ottawa police will conduct internal and external search for new chief, board chair says

The chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board insists the search for the next police chief will look both inside and outside the Elgin Street headquarters.

Fifty people attended a public consultation session this week that asked residents what they want to see in the capital’s next chief.  Several people said they would prefer the Ottawa Police Service hire a new chief from outside of the force.

“The search has always been internal and external. It’s been for many years we’ve done both; even if you want to hire internally, it’s good to know what’s out there and you can compare the talent, compare what you’re looking for, compare what the community is looking for,” said Ottawa Police Services Board chair Eli El-Chantiry.

El-Chantiry tells Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “CFRA Live with Andrew Pinsent” there’s “pros and cons” to hiring from inside and outside the service.

“Someone internally will know the organization. There’s the benefit he grew up in the city, he knows the city,” El-Chantiry said.

El-Chantiry notes the Ottawa Police Service had success in the past hiring Vince Bevan and Vern White from outside of the service. Bevan was initially hired as a superintendent, before working his way up to chief.

“If you asked me with the most successful, you can hire from the outside but not be in the chief’s position immediately,” El-Chantiry said Saturday morning.

Chief Peter Sloly resigned as chief during the Freedom Convoy demonstration in February, just over two years after being hired from outside the service. Steve Bell is serving as interim chief.

“There needs to be a big change that takes place,” said one participant at Wednesday’s meeting.

“The next police chief needs to think outside the box and be someone who can solve the problems facing our community.”

Another participant told the public consultation meeting that the service needs someone who is “not afraid to break the egg to make a new omelette.”

A report for the Ottawa Police Services Board in March recommended the service “make the best of use of its time” before the next municipal election by holding community consultation activities to support the recruitment of the new chief.

The chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board says he was disappointed with the turnout for this week’s public consultation on the new police chief, adding it’s important to hear from the community about “this important position.”

“I’m looking for people – the pizza shop owner, the little business, the family with kids involved in illegal activities – we need to hear from parents, from taxpayers,” El-Chantiry said.

El-Chantiry says he believes Bell has helped instill confidence back in the Ottawa Police Service following the Freedom Convoy occupation in February.

“I believe so. From what we hear from the public, they are happy with the whole organization. We had the experience with the motorcycle convoy, and I believe we handled really well,” the councillor said.

“We had the Canada Day celebration, we knew Canada Day celebrations were expecting larger demonstrations, larger convoy to come to the city so we were prepared.

“I believe the interim chief is doing a great job with his team.”

El-Chantiry insists the search for a new Ottawa Police chief is an open process, and that’s why the Ottawa Police Services Board has hired an outside firm to assist the search for a new chief.

The Ottawa Police Service also needs to hire a new deputy chief.

WIth files from CTV News Ottawa’s Natalie van Rooy

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