Ottawa’s business community is a “hugely important partner” to the Ottawa Police Service, according to its new chief, Peter Sloly.
Sloly, a 27-year veteran of the Toronto Police Service, spoke to an audience of business and community leaders on Thursday morning during the first installment of the Mayor’s Breakfast Series in 2020.
Sloly said he believes the dynamics of policing and public service should be “a little less on the arresting side, a lot more on the community building side.” To that end, Sloly said OPS plans to implement three more neighbourhood resource teams, which would begin operating in the ByWard Market/Lowertown area in May and in the Centretown and Bayshore neighbourhoods this fall.
The teams would add to the three current community policing teams already operating in Vanier/Overbrook, Heron Gate/South Ottawa, and Carlington/Caldwell. Ottawa’s community policing model was abolished in 2017 following organizational restructuring and budgetary restraints, but was relaunched in October 2019 following complaints of increases in crime. These calls came from both neighbourhood residents and the city’s BIAs, which advocate for businesses in their respective areas.
Sloly said the police service considers Ottawa’s business community “a hugely important partner,” adding that BIAs provide opportunities for OPS to meet with residents and business owners alike.
“It’s one of the reasons we are going down into the ByWard Market. We had a lot of consultations with (business owners) to understand what their needs were, and tried to meet that with deploying a neighbourhood team,” he said.
Sloly said better OPS integration with communities would increase the quality of service and provide a greater return on investment for taxpayers.
“I believe that if we put our really good human beings in uniform, directly embedded in your community and working with your community members, we will have the biggest possible impact,” Sloly told the audience.
Sloly took the crowd through his first 100-plus days of office, which included the reintroduction of a dedicated hate crime unit, a recently launched Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Plan and an effort to hire 100 new officers in 2020.
The new chief also brings some out-of-uniform experience to the top job at OPS. After leaving the Toronto Police Service in 2016, Sloly joined the private sector at Deloitte Canada, an experience he said broadened his abilities as a leader and allowed him to “understand business in the truest sense.”
Sloly said he applied to be Ottawa’s chief of police because he believes the city has the “best brand of policing anywhere in this country.” Sloly was sworn into office on October 28, 2019.
Sloly ended his speech with a call to action, asking the crowd for more people “of the best quality… who want to truly serve” to join the OPS.
“If we do all this together, we will have a safer, better and more inclusive city that represents the best country in the world.”