Ottawa Police say they will be launching three new Neighbourhood Resource Teams in 2020, bringing the total number of community policing teams in Ottawa to six.
The announcement from Police Chief Peter Sloly was made Tuesday.
- MEDIA RELEASE: New Neighbourhood Resource Teams announced for 2020
Sloly says the 2020 teams will focus on three areas: The ByWard Market and Lowertown, Bayshore, and Centretown.
The ByWard Market and Lowertown team will begin walking the beat in May. The others are scheduled to launch in the fall.
In a press release, the Ottawa Police Service says the teams will be made up of “experienced officers with the personal and professional maturity to manage complex crime and socioeconomic issues affecting their assigned neighbourhood.” They will also receive extra training in problem solving, conflict mediation, effective communication and intercultural competency.
The officers in each team will work exclusively in their assigned neighbourhoods for at least two years. The goal is to create relationships with the local residents, businesses and non-profit groups.
“The NRTs are the centrepiece of the OPS neighbourhood policing strategy. We are putting them in place in the communities that need the help the most,” said Chief Peter Sloly, in Tuesday’s press release. “Since October, I have been talking with and listening to the community, the Ottawa Police Association (OPA), the Senior Officers’ Association (SOA), academics, city councillors, Community Equity Council, police/justice leaders, the Ottawa Police Services Board (OPSB), frontline members, along with my executive and senior leadership team members. Reinvesting in neighbourhood policing has been a clear priority in all of those conversations. ”
The new teams will join existing teams in Vanier and Overbrook, Heron Gate and South Ottawa, and Carlington. The new NRTs will use existing resources within the approved OPS budget, police say.
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Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s CFRA Live, Sloly said vulnerable communities have a hunger for a relationship with police.
“Everyone has said, look, we’re not always appreciative of everything you do—I get that. I’ve heard that for 30 years,” Sloly said, “but, across the board, particularly in communities that have suffered the most from violent crime, they want more police officers. They want to see them. They want to know who they are. They want to get to the level of trust and confidence where they’re willing to share more information and get involved directly with those officers in co-producing public safety.”
Sloly said the additional teams will not prevent every single crime, but may help calm the fears of a community that suffers a tragedy.
“None of this is going to guarantee we won’t have a shooting tonight, or next week, or next month,” he said. “None of this guarantees we will not have violent individuals who’ll still continue to try to prey on vulnerable communities. But if they do decided to do that, there will be a much more robust and comprehensive response to that violent incident and there will be a more robust and comprehensive strategy to prevent it from happening again.”
Examples Sloly gave include people being less reluctant to become witness and give information to police, and being less reluctant to testify at trial.
“When something happens—not if—we’re more likely for people to come forward as witnesses; we’re more likely to have those witnesses come to court to deliver their critical testimony; we’re more likely to have communities that recover more quickly and completely from tragic incidents because there’s a level of cohesion and collaboration that pre-exists those incidents.”
But it will require cooperation from the community, he said.
“It’s not just a police investment here. There is a required call to action for community leaders, community members, the average, quiet, courageous Ottawa citizen to get involved,” he said. “None of these programs will work without community involvement.”
This announcement is one part of Chief Sloly’s new plan to tackle violent crime in Ottawa. A police spokesperson says another announcement is in the works.