Chair's Message

Headshot of Sandy Smallwood

As Acting Chair of the Police Services Board, I am pleased to present to you the Ottawa Police Service’s 2019 Annual Report.

The Board is very pleased with the many accomplishments made by the Service over the year, particularly as they relate to the Board’s strategic priorities of advancing community policing; making meaningful progress on equity, diversity, and inclusion; modernizing our work environments; and supporting Ottawa Police members.

The various jobs of our members are not easy; policing is becoming increasingly complex and dynamic. Some of the key trends we see are non-criminal issues that draw on police resources; demands for more proactive policing efforts to address local problems; a national increase in violent crime (rate and severity) and an increase in borderless crimes; mounting budgetary pressures; greater public scrutiny and demands for enhanced accountability and transparency; an evolving legal, regulatory and oversight environment; and changes in technology and social media usage. Policing the Nation’s Capital also presents unique challenges given the size, geographic and demographic diversity of the city, the provincial border, and presence of multiple law enforcement agencies.

Despite the challenges being faced, the professional and compassionate sworn and civilian members of the OPS continue to work hard to deliver strategies, programs, and services to improve the safety and security of those who visit, work and live in our beautiful city.

A significant investment in advancing the Board's strategic priorities began with the release of the Diversity Audit and the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) project. In late 2019, the OPS Executive Command team also began planning the implementation of the Respect, Values and Inclusion directorate. The new directorate builds on the existing work of the Diversity Audit, the Respectful Workplace Program and the EDI project. It addresses major concerns raised by both OPS members and citizens of Ottawa and allows the OPS to move forward in evolving a more progressive and inclusive police culture which, in turn, will help us deliver a better and more effective police service for all.

As part of the OPS’ community policing response strategy, the Service introduced the new Neighbourhood Response Team – which we hope to expand in the future.  Built around neighbourhood policing, the strategy incorporates the need for crime prevention, gun violence suppression and collaboration with our partners and other community stakeholders, to help build more cohesive, stronger, healthier, and safer communities.

The Board was also kept informed on work needed to continue to adapt to Canada’s Cannabis Act, to renew the OPS’ commitment to wellness, provide more victim support, and address the concerning issue of road safety. Through key partnerships, the Ottawa Police launched new programs and initiatives like 529 Garage, traffic enforcement blitzes, and other safety campaigns to address community concerns.

Another milestone for the Board and the Service in 2019 occurred with the appointment of a new Chief of Police and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) in the late summer. In August 2019, the Board announced Peter Sloly as the new Chief of Police and Jeff Letourneau as the new CAO. Chief Sloly presented the Board with a progressive and inspired leadership style which we felt was the right fit for the Ottawa Police in order to effect the meaningful changes our members and community were demanding. Similarly, CAO Letourneau thoroughly demonstrated to the Board his knowledge, skills, and abilities relating to finance, human resources, information management, facilities, and training. The Board has full confidence that, together with their fellow Executive Command team members and the OPS membership, they will continue to move the OPS forward and push for excellence. 

Lastly, 2019 also saw a number of changes to the Police Services Board membership. In February, we were pleased to have Mr. Daljit Nirman join as a new provincially appointed community member, and in September, City Council appointed Mayor Jim Watson in place of Councillor Keith Egli. Councillor Diane Deans also announced her leave of absence in September, to focus her efforts on battling a devastating cancer diagnosis. I would like to take this opportunity to send our best wishes to Councillor Egli and Councillor Deans. We wish Councillor Deans a speedy recovery and look forward to her return in the near future. 

Reflecting on the previous year provides an opportunity to highlight areas where we must focus more of our attention moving forward. As such, we continue to support the organization in its growth in the areas of workplace harassment, discrimination, human rights, and ethics. And while ensuring fiscal responsibility, modernization also continues to be an important point for OPS to maintain momentum.

Looking ahead, we could have never predicted the challenges that COVID19 and other world issues would bring. But one thing is for certain – there is a strong desire for change from all parties and the Board will continue to listen, bring forward community concerns, and help to drive reforms that will allow the citizens of Ottawa to feel served and protected by our police service.

Sincerely,

L.A (Sandy) Smallwood
Acting Chair, Ottawa Police Services Board