Ottawa police are rolling out a neighbourhood resource team (NRT) in Bayshore sooner than planned in response to a spate of late-night shootings this past week.
The Ottawa Police Service’s NRT approach sees a dedicated team of officers stationed in a neighbourhood to build relationships with community leaders and work with nonprofits and social service partners to create a more “holistic approach to policing.”
In a presentation to the Ottawa Police Services Board earlier this week, Chief Peter Sloly flagged the NRT approach as pivotal to improving policing in Ottawa.
The Bayshore NRT will start on Aug. 17 and will be the fifth such team in Ottawa, with deployments already in the ByWard Market/Lowertown, Vanier/Overbrook, Heron Gate/South Ottawa and Carlington/Caldwell neighbourhoods.
The Bayshore team was planned to roll out in the fall alongside a Centretown deployment, but Ottawa police said the NRT rollout was accelerated amid recent spikes in violence in the city’s west end.
Ottawa has seen at least seven shootings in the past week, including one homicide in the east end.
Insp. Carl Cartwright with the OPS guns and gangs unit told Global News earlier this week that offenders are targeting not each other, but homes and neighbourhoods, putting families uninvolved in the conflict at risk.
Police have already increased their presence in these communities, but Cartwright said more officers will not solve the root causes of violence. He pointed to the need for better social support to correct inequities and build “resilient, self-sufficient” communities.
Numerous delegations speaking before Sloly at this week’s police board meeting called for change in the form of defunding the police, echoing calls from recent demonstrations in the city against systemic anti-Black racism in the Ottawa Police Service and the city at large.
Advocates of defunding police services note that many residents do not feel safer with increased police presence in their neighbourhoods, given historical incidents of police violence against Black, Indigenous and racialized people.
Proposals to defund the police often include plans to reallocate funds to housing, social support or mental health services.