El-Chantiry says return of community policing won’t change much in ward

WEST CARLETON – Many voices in Ottawa hailed the return of community policing to the Ottawa Police Services’ (OPS) strategic direction, but Coun. Eli El-Chantiry says the new direction won’t change much in West Carleton.

Coun. Eli El-Chantiry doesn't expect much to change in Ward 5 with the return of community policing. File photo
Coun. Eli El-Chantiry doesn’t expect much to change in Ward 5 with the return of community policing. File photo

“It’s overrated to be honest with you,” El-Chantiry told West Carleton Online from Fitzroy Provincial Park last Thursday (July 18) during the Concerts in the Park event. “Any change to reduce crime, I’m all for, but this is all operational – not a police board or council decision.”

El-Chantiry spent many years as the chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board, but this term Coun. Diane Deans was appointed to the position while El-Chantiry moved to chair the Agriculture and Rural Affairs committee.

El-Chantiry says the strategic direction of the OPS is the “chief’s decision.”

The Community Policing program was cancelled by former Chief Charles Bordeleau in 2017.

“In 2017 the priorities were the Guns and Gangs Unit and violence against women,” El-Chantiry said. “We still had our community policing we shared with Rideau-Goulbourn.”

The decision to bring it back was made as part of the 2019 – 2020 Strategic Direction plan, which is a result of public feedback and a survey of Ottawa Police officers. 

The research and survey revealed while satisfaction with the quality of policing was high, there were concerns with guns and gangs, violence against specific groups and road safety. 

The OPS also heard the changes to community policing in recent years were not well received.

To address the issue through the new strategic direction, neighbourhood based teams of officers will be placed in three high-crime areas to enhance relationships with those communities. Those officers will go into neighbourhoods in Vanier, Caldwell and Ottawa South. 

These ‘neighbourhood-based problem-solving teams’ will address public safety concerns and work on enhancing relationships with the community by focusing on the top concerns. 

“I’m not sure about the effectiveness because all these events (crimes) take place at night,” El-Chantiry said. “What it means is four or five officers will be returned to community policing.”

After an evaluation, the program is expected to be expanded in to more neighbourhoods.