Ottawa police to wait for ‘Freedom Convoy’ reviews before launching search for new chief

The Ottawa Police Services Board will await the completion of the city’s independent reviews and police response to the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protest before launching the search for a new Chief and Deputy Chief .

In the meantime, staff recommends continuing community consultation efforts, “maximizing the use of council’s time prior to the fall municipal elections.”

A report for Monday’s Ottawa Police Services Board meeting outlines the recruitment process to hire a new chief and deputy chief, following the resignations of Chief Peter Sloly and Deputy Chief Uday Jaswal.

Sloly resigned as leader on February 15 amid protests against COVID-19 vaccination mandates and other public health measures. Last month Jaswal tendered his resignation, two years after being suspended with pay. Jaswal was charged with dishonorable conduct under the Police Services Act.

Changes were also made to the Ottawa Police Services Board, with all seven members either resigning or being removed from the board. Com. Eli El-Chantiry, Jeff Leiper and Cathy Curry, as well as board appointee Suzanne Valiquet, have been appointed to the board thus far.

Deputy Chief Steve Bell has been named acting chief, while two acting deputy chiefs have been appointed from the ranks of the Ottawa Police Service.

In a report for Monday’s board meeting, staff recommends that the Ottawa Police Services Board cancel the recruitment process for a third deputy chief that began in January and focus its efforts on the filling of the two vacant positions within the executive command team.

“In the coming months, the Board and Service will be tasked with responding to requests related to independent reviews and assessments of the response to the convoy’s illegal protests,” the report said.

“These reviews will seek to assess various aspects related to the response, including but not limited to planning, coordination, communications, resources, enforcement, governance and operations.

“In order to enable the Board to consider all relevant findings of the reviews in its recruitment and selection process, it is recommended that recruitment of a new Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable commence after the completion Exams.”

Staff recommend council “make the best use of their time” in the seven months leading up to the next municipal election by organizing community consultation activities to support the recruitment of the new chief and deputy chief.

“This will help prepare the board for the official launch of the recruiting process,” the report said.

Staff recommends that the Ottawa Police hire management firm Odgers Berndtson to support the recruitment process, at a cost of $95,800.

Council will also vote Monday on a motion by new council chair El-Chantiry asking the city’s auditor general to lead the review of the Ottawa Police Service’s overall response to the “Freedom Convoy” protest in downtown Ottawa, including reviewing Incident Command. structure, the board’s role in major event management, operational approaches and preparedness, and enforcement strategies.

Brandon D. James