Ottawa police temporarily boost staffing in guns and gangs unit
Ottawa police are once again moving more officers to the guns and gangs unit in response to a recent increase in targeted, gang-related shootings.
There have been 11 shootings across the city in November, including one that killed 41-year-old Dady Jean, bringing the total to 42 for the year.
Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau said as of Monday, there are now 22 investigators assigned to the unit instead of its normal 10.
“They’re tremendous people that have a lot of expertise but they need support in dealing with the volume of incidents we’ve had over the last number of weeks,” he said.
Six of those extra 12 officers are coming from the district investigation unit, while the other half are coming from their drug unit and Direct Action Response Team.
Chief: last staffing boost worked
Ottawa police have done something similar with other units in the past when there’s a spike in activity, such as the robberies unit.
The guns and gangs unit also had a temporary staffing boost in response to the record 49 shootings in 2014.
“We saw a decrease in the number of shootings going into the summer. The strategy we used in increasing the resources in the winter was effective. There were a lot of charges that were laid and a number of offenders were put in jail,” Bordeleau said.
“We did see a decrease in the number of shootings and from a priority perspective we had to reassign some officers back into the patrol environment where calls are serviced and holidays are at a premium. Now we’ve seen an increase again in shootings so we’re reinvesting the resources.”
The chief, who made the guns and gangs file one of his priorities when he was promoted three and a half years ago, said they’re working to increase the number of permanent officers attached to the unit.
“One of the things that’s changing also is the complexity of the investigations. As an example it took us two and a half days to search a car where we knew there was a gun involved from one of the recent shootings. It’s becoming a lot more resource-intensive to do these types of investigations,” he said.
“We’re factoring that into [asking] what is that right number of resources we need as a basic complement, we know it’s more than 10 now so we’ll work toward identifying is there a trend, is this the new norm? We certainly hope this isn’t the new norm, that is a lot of shootings for a community our size.”
Request for permanent help
Bordeleau will be presenting a report on the matter at the Ottawa Police Services Board meeting Monday night.
That’s when the board will vote on the Ottawa police draft budget, which includes a request to hire 25 more officers in 2016.
“If the board approves the budget going forward and it’s then adopted by council later, we’ll move forward with that hiring plan and decide where those officers go,” he said.
“I’ve indicated that of the 25 officers, some will go to our guns and gangs unit, units that deal with violence against women and the accommodated officer issues as far as the number of officers who require medical accommodations, that can’t do the front-line work because of medical restrictions. We’re seeing that number increase.”
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s office said Monday that Watson and Bordeleau have made plans to meet and talk about gangs and shooting later this week.
By Andrew Foote, CBC News