Ottawa police will wait for ‘Freedom Convoy’ reviews before launching search for new chief

The Ottawa Police Services Board will wait for the completion of the independent reviews into the city and police response to the “Freedom Convoy” demonstration before launching the search for a new chief and deputy chief.

In the meantime, staff recommend proceeding with community consultation efforts, “maximizing the board’s use of its time prior to the municipal election in the fall.”

A report for Monday’s Ottawa Police Services Board meeting outlines the recruitment process to hire a new chief and deputy chief, following the resignations of Chief Peter Sloly and Deputy Chief Uday Jaswal.

Only resigned as chief on Feb. 15 in the middle of the protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures. Last month, Jaswal submitted his resignation, two years after he was suspended with pay. Jaswal was charged with discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.

There have also been changes to the Ottawa Police Services Board, with all seven members either resigning or being removed from the board. Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, Jeff Leiper and Cathy Curry, along with council appointed Suzanne Valiquet have been appointed to the board so far.

Deputy Chief Steve Bell has been appointed interim chief, while two interim deputy chiefs have been appointed from the ranks of the Ottawa Police Service.

In a report for Monday’s board meeting, staff recommend the Ottawa Police Services Board cancel the recruitment process for a third deputy chief that began in January, and focus its efforts on filling the two existing vacancies on the Executive Command Team.

“In the coming months, the Board and the Service will be responsible for responding to requests related to the independent reviews and evaluations of the response to the unlawful convoy protests,” the report says.

“These reviews will seek to evaluate various aspects related to the response, including but not limited to, planning, coordination, communications, resources, enforcement, governance, and operations.

“In order to allow the Board to consider any relevant findings from the reviews in its recruitment and selection process, it is recommended that the recruitment for a new Chief of Police and Deputy Chief of Police begin following the completion of the reviews.”

Staff recommend the board “make the best use of its time” in the seven months before the next municipal election by holding community consultation activities to support the recruitment of the new chief and deputy chief.

“This will help prepare the board for the official launch of the recruitment process,” the report says.

Staff recommend Ottawa Police hire executive firm Odgers Berndtson to support the recruitment process, at a cost of $95,800.

The board will also vote Monday on a motion from new board chair El-Chantiry to ask the city’s auditor general to lead the review of the Ottawa Police Service’s overall response to the “Freedom Convoy” protest in downtown Ottawa, including looking at the incident command structure, the board’s role in handling major events, operational approaches and readiness, and enforcement strategies.

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