Police upping presence near all Ottawa mosques after New Zealand shootings
Ottawa police are increasing their “vigilance and presence” around local religious institutions across the national capital Friday, including the city’s mosques, in the wake of the “senseless” mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 49 people and injured 48 others, the chief of police says.
“These types of events affect us all and we understand that they have a profound impact on many in our diverse communities,” Chief Charles Bordeleau wrote in a letter to local community and faith leaders members on Friday, a copy of which he posted on his Twitter account.
“The members of the Ottawa Police Service are committed to your safety and security and we have increased our vigilance and presence at local religious institutions.”
Police in Christchurch, New Zealand have said three people are currently in custody and one man in his 20s has been charged in relation to the attacks, which occurred during daily prayers on Friday at the two mosques.
In his letter, Bordeleau said the Ottawa Police Service has “no intelligence to suggest that any group in Ottawa is allied” with those suspects but added that “the possibility of a copycat lone actor is always a concern.”
“Police presence alone has been shown to have a definitive effect on discouraging lone actor attackers,” Bordeleau wrote.
The force has assigned patrol officers to monitor “anything that touches the Islamic community or that they’re involved in” across the city, according to Ottawa police spokesperson Const. Amy Gagnon.
That increased security presence will be in place throughout Friday and the need to maintain those measures will be reassessed into the weekend as the police service receives more information, Gagnon said.
Bordeleau and the police service’s two deputy chiefs, along with the force’s community development coordinator Hamid Mousa and community police officers are all reaching out to community members and offering “ongoing support,” she added.
“We want to reassure the community that they are safe,” Gagnon said.
Bordeleau and Gagnon urge community members to call 911 if at any time they feel a life-threatening emergency or a crime is occurring.
Gagnon said that an individual who would like to submit information anonymously to police can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
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