An Ottawa police officer is facing disciplinary charges in connection with a meme the force’s chief has previously described as racist.
In an open letter issued Monday morning, Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly said the officer has been charged under the Police Services Act with offences related to the creation and distribution of the meme.
Sloly said he has also launched an investigation into media leaks of “highly confidential and sensitive” information related to the case.
The incident has highlighted the need for policy reforms and broader training, the chief said.
“It was clear that relevant policies, training, procedures and practices were insufficient to prevent and manage this,” Sloly wrote.
“As a result, we are overhauling related policies, we are addressing IT issues and every member of the OPS, myself included, will participate in a service-wide training and awareness initiative that will be completed in the next 12 months.”
At a meeting of the Ottawa Police Services Board in April, the chief said a “disgusting, racist” meme targeting some of the force’s racialized members had been circulating.
“This overt act of racism is unacceptable,” he said at the time, calling it more evidence that the force needs to improve its culture.
The Ottawa Citizen previously reported that a drug investigator was suspended in connection with the meme a few weeks later.
A spokeswoman for the force would not comment Monday when asked if the officer charged was the same one who was suspended.
Const. Amy Gagnon said in an email that neither the officer nor the charges will be named until the disciplinary process has formally begun.
In his letter, the police chief cited a number of other ongoing internal investigations and legal proceedings regarding the conduct of officers as among the issues affecting public trust in police.