Guns and Gangs

Ottawa, like cities across Canada, has continued to see an increase in gun violence and shootings over the last several years. Several strategies have been put in place to stem the increase including a community based guns and gangs strategy that leverages and coordinates the efforts of stakeholders and community groups as well as increased police enforcement.

The OPS has made preventing and suppressing gun violence an organizational priority and officers across the service including Frontline officers, Drugs, Street Crime, Direct Action Response Team (DART) and Guns and Gangs (G&G) have been leading efforts to hold offenders accountable. Resources have also been realigned from all covert operations to meet the current need. While these efforts have met with success it is clear that gun violence is an increasing and disturbing trend that requires more stable policing resources if our successes are to be sustained and increased.

Over the course of the year, the OPS worked closely with our city partners to help create the guidelines for a new strategy plan that was unveiled in the late fall of 2017 by Crime Prevention Ottawa. The new Street Violence and Gang Strategy plan was the culmination of several years of consultations, research, and collaboration with all of the city’s frontline agencies.

What emerged from the research was a trend more towards a drug lifestyle than a gang or geographical affiliation; with previous rivals seen working together to push a certain commodity – whether drugs or weapons.

What also emerged was a need to look at the issue of street level violence on a holistic level.  Instead of each public agency dealing with a specific role in the elimination of such threats from our streets, the strategy plan aimed to expand the scope of each involved. Instead of the OPS focusing on enforcement and suppression alone; it recommended that police approach the issue from three additional pillars: Neighbourhood Cohesion (building resilient children, families and communities); Prevention (inclusive and preventative approaches to social development, community policing); and Intervention (identify areas where proactive measures can be implemented and help those seeking to exit gang life).

The OPS also aligned its internal strategic approach in the same pillared manner. G&G implemented a risk-driven approach to identify those individuals involved in street violence in Ottawa’s communities.  One success story from this realignment was the results of Project Sabotage: this seven-month investigation culminated in the seizure of 24 crime guns, the arrest of 15 individuals, and laying of 300-plus criminal charges.

As the OPS moves forward in its plans to counter the trade of illicit drugs and firearms in our communities, it will encourage a broader community-based model to enhance existing partnerships, build new relationships, and eliminate these types of activities from our streets.

 

 

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