‘This is not a broken service’: Day one for Ottawa’s new police chief

Ottawa’s new police chief says he’s confident that the Ottawa Police Service can regain residents’ trust in the wake of the force’s police response to the ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstration.

Chief Eric Stubbs assumed command of the service on Thursday morning, nearly four weeks after he was appointed chief.

“It’s not mission impossible,” Stubbs told CTV News Ottawa about restoring the community’s faith and trust in the service.

“Already, the Ottawa Police Service have taken a number of steps to change some of their business and the way they respond to some of these things.

“We got more work we’re going to do but there’s a lot of people in the Ottawa Police Service that work very hard when it comes to the protest activity in Ottawa, they have a lot of good processes but they’re going to get better, we’re going to get better and we’ll be ready.”

Stubbs arrives at Ottawa Police headquarters as the force’s actions are under the microscope at the public inquiry looking into the federal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act during the ‘Freedom Convoy.’   Evidence presented at the inquiry included allegations police information was leaked to organizers of the protest, Premier Doug Ford believing Ottawa police “lost command” of the situation, OPP officers describing dysfunction in the service, and concerns raised about intelligence gathering.

The city of Ottawa’s auditor general is also looking into the police and city response to the convoy.

“It has been a difficult couple of years for not only the Ottawa citizens but people across Canada. The police service obviously went through the same experiences in terms of COVID and what not,” Stubbs said.

“I think we’ve turned the corner.”

Stubbs says he has spent the past few days meeting officers and staff inside the Ottawa Police Service, along with some members of the community.

The former RCMP assistant commissioner in British Columbia succeeds interim chief Steve Bell, who took over in February when Peter Sloly resigned as chief of police.

“Obviously, when you have a change of leadership, it’s exactly that, it’s a change. I’m sure I’m going to bring a different perspective on a number of issues and there’s some things that will change, but there’s a lot good about the OPS,” Stubbs said Thursday morning.

“This is not a broken service; they do a tonne of great work in this community and there’s a lot of things that I want to jump on and continue doing with them, and as I get more educated and learn there will be changes but they’re on a good path here.

“We’ll continue with listening to the community, and I have to listen to the community, I have to listen to the people that are in this building and we’ll come up with a strategic plan in the coming weeks and months.”

The Ottawa Police Services Board hired Stubbs on Oct. 21, three days before the municipal election. Council will now appoint the three elected officials to sit on the board for the new four-year term, with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe saying during the campaign he will take his seat on the board.

The first major item on the agenda for the new chief will be the 2023 budget, which will be tabled in the new year.

“The budgeting process…..It’s delayed this year because of the municipal election so we’re just going into those discussions of what the budget might look like for 2023, so I can’t predict exactly what that’s going to look like, obviously,” the chief said.

Stubbs joins the Ottawa Police Service after spending 29 years with the RCMP. He joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1993, and was stationed in British Columbia along with a brief stint in Ottawa.

“Certainly, I want to learn, I want to learn about what their concerns are – that’s both internally and externally. I want a positive, I want to work together, I want to listen to people and obviously I want to build that trust,” Stubbs said.

Last November, the Mounties in B.C. enforced an injunction barring protesters from blocking an access road in the Wet’suwet’en territory used by Coastal GasLink pipeline workers. Two journalists were arrested covering the ongoing B.C. pipeline dispute. At the time, Stubbs said they did not identify themselves as journalists until after they were arrested.

“All the protests that have occurred in the last five years, COVID, but there’s been a lot of resource base ones, the Coastal GasLink with the Wet’suwet’en, Old Growth Forest, the Trans Mountain pipeline, it’s been very challenging,” Stubbs said last month. “There’s a team here that’s done it a lot and have really dedicated to trying to resolve these things through talking and negotiating and we’ve been successful in a lot of those cases. But often we do end up having to arrest people and some people are upset.”

View original article here Source