Our History

Over the years, a number of police agencies have operated in the National Capital Region. From the Bytown Association for the Preservation of the Public Peace (formed during the unofficial incorporation of Bytown in 1847), to various municipal police forces, as well as provincial and federal police agencies, the Ottawa area has a rich policing tradition.

Old photo of police officers saluting to one another

Policing in Ottawa has continued to evolve to meet the needs of the community. When the town of Bytown incorporated and adopted the name of Ottawa in 1855, Chief Roderick Ross became the first Chief Constable. Life as an officer was not easy with their duties consisting largely of keeping public order - much of that involved liquor. Rather than earn a salary, the officers were paid $1 for every culprit they brought in. Since those humble and difficult beginnings, the Ottawa Police Service has evolved into today's highly trained and technically equipped service.

Women in Policing

Sketched portrait of Flora Campbell

The first Police Woman ever hired by the Ottawa Police Service was Flora Ann Campbell on December 31, 1913.

Born in 1883, Flora Campbell worked as a Probation Officer and Superintendent of the Women’s Hostel before becoming a Police Woman. 

Although her duties were supposed to be the same as those of her male counterparts, Flora Campbell was unarmed and did not wear a badge of authority or uniform.  And, while she was given arrest powers, she seldom made arrests.

Her actual role was dealing with charged women appearing in court.  In many cases where the women were first time offenders, charges were dismissed and Police Woman Campbell was tasked with helping them find employment.   Her approach towards women and the law was to resolve as many conflicts as possible without stepping into a courtroom (similar to the ‘Restorative Justice’ process today). As part of her position, she was also tasked with investigating allegations of child neglect or abuse.

Flora died in 1961.

Her years of service demonstrated the value of women in policing to both the Police Commission and the community.

Today, the Ottawa Police is proud to say that almost 40% of its employees are female, working in all sections of the Ottawa Police.