‘A Duct Tape Effort’: Key Moments From Peter Sloly’s Testimony In The Emergencies Act Inquiry

Former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly is in the midst of his long-awaited testimony before the Emergency Law Enforcement Commission which is examining the federal government’s invocation of the Emergencies Act to end the “Convoy of freedom”.

Sloly resigned weeks after the protests amid strong criticism that the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) was not doing enough to enforce the law, dismantle the occupation and drive truckers out of the city.

His testimony comes on the heels of testimony from some of his former police colleagues, and a week after the Ottawa Board of Police Services named his permanent replacement. With cross-examination yet to begin, here are some key quotes from his testimony so far.

“THEY WERE DOING THE BEST EVER”

Early in Friday’s testimony, Sloly was emotional when asked how Ottawa police were doing after the first weekend, the point at which Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson previously testified that it became clear additional resources would be needed. .

“This is always a difficult part for me,” Sloly said, starting to cry. Commissioner Paul Rouleau then asked if he needed to take a break, but Sloly said he didn’t and continued.

“They were doing their best under inhumane circumstances, as the city was, as the community was. It was too cold and it was too much, but they did the best they could. I’m grateful to them. They should be celebrated.” Not celebrated, that’s the wrong word. They must be understood,” Sloly said of the Ottawa police officers at the scene.

The commission’s attorney then asked Sloly to explain why he felt they had been misunderstood. This is what he said:

“The level of disinformation and misinformation was off the charts. It was crushing for member morale, it was crushing for incident command team morale, it was crushing for my executive team morale. I suspect it was crushing for the [Police Services] Council. It was crushing for everyone. He was relentless, he was 24 hours a day. And I think by the end of the weekend, it had become a global story that the mainstream media was following. And none of it was portraying in any accurate way[ly], the hard work of the men and women of the police service and partner agencies who stood with us. None of that,” Sloly said.

“To this day it hasn’t and that’s very unfortunate because I think public trust in any police service is the number one public safety factor. When any police service significantly loses public trust, that in itself is a massive threat and risk to public safety.”

EXPLANATION OF YOUR COMMENT ‘MIGHT NOT BE A POLICE SOLUTION’

On Friday, Sloly was asked why he said on February 2 that “there may not be a police solution” to ending the “Freedom Convoy.”

His response: “The size and scale of the events were not going to be handled by any police jurisdiction, certainly not mine. This was a nationwide event that started in every corner of Canada and came to our city.” … This was confirmed by a wide variety of polarizing issues, one of which was the vaccine mandate, but there were plenty of other anti-government sentiments expressed across all three levels of government to come to our city and participate in the event, to have an unruly party and in many cases illegal.

“The fundamentals that created this event and substantially brought it to our city went well beyond the Police Services Act mandate of me as chief of police and the Ottawa police service… And we were going to have to involve other elements of civil society, and probably all three levels of government, to somehow make a significant contribution to a sustainable solution to the end.

WELLINGTON DESCRIBED AS ‘THEME PARK’

When asked how OPS tried to prioritize the response to the protest once it was well entrenched in the city center, Sloly said its overall goal was to “close down” those who allowed the protest zone to “look like a theme park”.

Here’s the full quote: “Clearly we were already aware of the problem of bouncy castles, DJs, dancing and fireworks. That’s a very short list of all the things that were affecting the neighborhoods in and around the red”. open barbecues, people blocking lanes, ripping masks off people’s faces. I could, I could go through the list in detail of the incredible variety of aggressive-type behaviors. city ​​to look like a theme park in the midst of a public safety crisis. He had presented nothing more than articulating the obvious.”

Former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly appears as a witness at the Emergency Law Enforcement Commission in Ottawa, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

CITES DEPUTIES ‘SIGNIFICANT LACK OF JUDGMENT’

During his testimony, Sloly clearly attempted to blame his officers for some of the deficiencies in the planning and application of force. The made reference to a document which contained a Feb. 5 email about a meeting he had with then-Assistant Director Steve Bell and Acting Deputy Director Patricia Ferguson about a decision he said was “kept secret” from him: changing who was leading Incident Command. .

“We are in the midst of what I now consider a national security crisis, my opinion, it does not have to be held by others, certainly a local public security crisis, and one of the most important functions, if not the most important, is the incident. Commander,” Sloly testified.

Sloly said the note “shows that I’m still not quite sure who’s running what, and for a police chief, with citizens in the trauma and victimization they suffered, our own members as struggling as they were. At best cases, I can call this a significant lack of judgment on behalf of my two operative deputies At worst this would probably have been a review I would have done after the events had concluded and vetted it further than close”.

Asked then if his level of trust in his deputies changed at that point, he said yes.

He was also asked if he was, as others have testified, in favor of more law enforcement rather than community involvement. Sloly called this “a narrative that someone has constructed to attack my character.”

‘I CAN’T AFFORD DUCT TAPE THROUGH’

Sloly was asked on Friday what he thought could be done to prevent local police from being in a similar situation again. His answer was quite long, but this section was more to the point:

“Training needs to be standardized, nomenclature needs to be standardized, equipment needs to be standardized, joint training needs to happen. And all of that has to happen long before a major, unprecedented paradigm-shifting event like the one we just saw.” Sloly said.

“This is one of those structural deficits, sir, that have existed for decades in surveillance. Not everything requires money, but it will require some investment in that regard. But it requires an investment of time and resources, and focus. And what this event did to Ottawa, Ontario and Canada was expose that kind of structural deficit. It is the same concept of structural deficit around intelligence gathering. We no longer have the luxury of using duct tape in these incidents. And unfortunately, this reads like a duct tape effort to get through a really sticky dynamic situation.”

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