Community police teams returning to 3 Ottawa neighbourhoods in 2020

The Ottawa Police Service headquarters at 474 Elgin St.
The Ottawa Police Service headquarters at 474 Elgin St. Screenshot / Google Maps

Teams of neighbourhood police officers will be returning to the ByWard Market, Centretown and Bayshore neighbourhoods later this year, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) announced on Tuesday.

The ByWard Market and Lowertown area is getting its neighbourhood resource team (NRT) in May, while the Centretown and Bayshore teams will hit the pavement in the fall, according to a statement issued by the police service.

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Community police officers assigned to those teams will remain in their respective neighbourhoods for at least two years, the force said.

“The NRTs are the centrepiece of the OPS neighbourhood policing strategy. We are putting them in place in the communities that need the help the most,” Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly wrote in the news release, adding that he has spoken with a number of police staff and community stakeholders since taking the helm of the force in October.

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“Reinvesting in neighbourhood policing has been a clear priority in all of those conversations.”

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The police service launched three teams in Vanier, Heron Gate and Carlington in October as a part of a pilot — essentially a rebirth of an old community policing model that was scrapped in 2017 due to budget constraints.

“These neighbourhoods were selected due to an increased volume of crime (including gun, gang and drug related violent street crime), the presence of complex social issues that underpin most crime (housing, employment, education, health, marginalization, discrimination, etc.) and a high number of calls for police service,” the police statement said.

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The money to pay for the teams was approved in the police service’s 2020 budget. Ottawa police in December also got $13.8 million from the Ontario government for community policing initiatives through a new provincial grant.

Police said on Tuesday that neighbourhood policing will be “the cornerstone” of the force’s overall community policing strategy as the force works to “prevent and reduce firearm violence along with other associated violent street crimes in Ottawa.”

The officers assigned to neighbourhood resource teams are “experienced” and have “the personal and professional maturity to manage complex crime and socio-economic issues affecting their assigned neighbourhood,” the statement said.

Witness describes chaotic scene following shooting in Ottawa
Witness describes chaotic scene following shooting in Ottawa

The announcement comes one week after the city’s first shooting death of the year, which took place at a short-term rental on Gilmour Street in Centretown.

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The police service said Tuesday that it’s working on “a whole-of-Ottawa approach” to tackling street crime and violence to complement the “positive response” emerging from the reinstalled neighbourhood resource teams.

Those efforts include incorporating “a new response model intended to support victims and communities by addressing heightened fear and anxiety within the immediate aftermath of violent crimes,” the statement said.