Hamilton police officers among authorities helping to clear occupation in Ottawa

Click to play video: 'Protest organizers arrested in Ottawa'
Protest organizers arrested in Ottawa
Mike Armstrong details the latest developments from Ottawa as key protest organizers are arrested – Feb 18, 2022

Hamilton police (HPS) are one of several Ontario services that have lent support to authorities in Ottawa over the past 22 days amid the ongoing so-called “Freedom Convoy” encampment.

HPS Chief Frank Bergen says close to 30 officers are currently in the city helping with logistical operations — things like prisoner transport, arrests and foot patrol — as forces begin a crackdown to end the occupation.

“What we have is we have 27 officers with an incident commander and they’re assisting,” Bergen told 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show.

“They’re assisting with just the actual flow of people, their lawful assembly, the protests.”

The contingent is the second from Hamilton that’s set foot in Ottawa with 38 officers from the city’s public order unit making an appearance just after demonstrators arrived in the nation’s capital in late January.

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The chief says the unit generally works under an incident command model and is used to manage crowds in public events.

The unit was sent not long after former chief Peter Sloly repeatedly claimed the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) lacked the resources to end the demonstration and requested additional support from other jurisdictions, including the Ontario Provincial Police, Toronto police and the RCMP.

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The HPS public order unit also put in time at the Ambassador Bridge in the midst of vehicles blockading roadways at the Detroit-Windsor border crossing last week.

Bergen says the combined service now in Ottawa is at a point where they’re looking to disassemble the groups occupying the Wellington Street area.

That push began on Friday following the OPS warning occupiers through printed notices and social media posts that significant numbers of officers would be on the ground and that demonstrators should leave.

Bergen admitted he doesn’t have any inside information on what is going on in the capital but is certain the police services have prepared a plan with three steps: an incident action plan, an alternative plan and an emergency plan.

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“In many cases, it’s actually very co-operative. There’s just conversations and (police) saying ‘let’s go’ and the people go quietly,” said Bergen.

“There will be a handful of people that are going to say ‘I’m not going’ and then you’re going to have to have sufficient response and use the tools of use of force correctly in order to then effect an arrest.”

On Thursday, police arrested two prominent convoy organizers and charged them both with counselling to commit the offence of mischief.

The OPS also set up at least 100 checkpoints around the downtown core, according to Steve Bell, the service’s interim chief.

Parliament also nixed plans for both the House of Commons and the Senate to meet to debate the Emergencies Act invocation, with House leaders expressing security concerns.

Hamilton’s chief says even if the bulk of the occupation is disbanded in the next few days, the police services work will be far from over dealing with egress likely to remain for weeks.

“Police will be there for several weeks through operational cycles and high visibility … again just to make sure people feel comfortable getting back to life as normal as it can be,” said Bergen.


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