The Ottawa Police Service is hiring a third-party investigator to examine claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment within the police force.
Police Chief Peter Sloly and Chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board Coun. Diane Deans announced Wednesday that Janice Rubin and Rubin Thomlinson LLP would conduct the independent, third-party investigation.
"Janice is a well-respected industry leader and bring world-class expertise and experience that will further strengthen our capability to create a safe working environment for everyone,” said Deans in a press release from the Ottawa Police Service. “It has taken too long to achieve the positive changes we are now beginning to see, but we are making meaningful headway. We will not stop until we have a workplace culture everyone rightfully deserves.”
The police service says Rubin will assist the force in "establishing an independent and objective complaints intake process as well as new investigation and resolution mechanisms." She will also conduct a third-party review of workplace culture within the police service and make recommendations to help bring about cultural change.
“There is absolutely zero tolerance for any workplace sexual violence and harassment at the OPS,” Sloly said in Wednesday's release. “We are doing everything we can to prevent these incidents from occurring while working to increase member confidence in reporting incidents and providing support to victims."
"We are listening, learning, changing and investing," said Sloly during a media briefing Wednesday afternoon.. "We have to have members who trust in the service who can engender trust in the community and right now this issue is undermining our trust to delivery community policing."
"It makes it a more safe option," said Erin Leigh, the executive director of the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women. "I believe it as well creates an option for anonymous reporting which is really important."
The process is expected to be in place by the end of October.
Chief Sloly says he hopes it will encourage people to come forward without fear of reprisal.
"It will be an independent and full investigation and resolution recommendation, there isn’t an opportunity for it to be overturned," he said.