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Chief Sloly: We need 1,800 more cops and civilians to handle crisis


“We must do everything in our power to take back the streets of Ottawa.”

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Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly says he needs 1,800 more cops and civilians to handle the ongoing convoy protests.

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He said his workforce can’t handle the job alone.

“They need more help and they need it now,” Sloly told city council during a special meeting Monday.

The entire Ottawa Police Service is about 2,100 staff, 1,200 of which are officers.

In letters to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford, Mayor Jim Watson and Coun. Diane Deans, the chair of the police services board, say Ottawa police need 1,000 regular officers, 600 public order officers, 100 investigators and 100 civilian staff.

“We must do everything in our power to take back the streets of Ottawa, and our parliamentary precinct, from the criminal activity and hooliganism that has transpired over the last nine days,” the letters say.

The temporary police resources would need to come from other services. Sloly couldn’t say with certainty how long it would take for officers to arrive in Ottawa and admitted that getting 1,800 more law enforcement professionals from other agencies across Canada “is going to be very difficult.”

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Several police forces, including the RCMP, OPP and municipal police forces, have already sent officers to help Ottawa police.

The city has also asked Ontario’s chief justice to increase the ticket fines for several bylaw offences, including those related to noise, idling, open fires and use of roads. Fines could increase to $1,000 per offence, compared to the current fines of $100 for idling, $490 for noise and $350 for blocking a road. (The chief justice sets provincial offences fines).

The city announced Sunday that Watson declared a state of emergency because of the ongoing protests. The declaration loosens procurement options for city hall, but it also amplifies the crisis in the national capital, one that the municipality can’t end on its own.

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Sloly still couldn’t say when the unlawful occupation of Ottawa will end, despite attempts by multiple councillors to get a commitment or rough date for when the chaos will clear.

The massive influx of police, as requested by Sloly, would set the protest-related policing at $2.5 million per day, compared to the roughly $800,000 spent each day with the current resources.

City hall, too, is tracking extra costs for areas like transit, fire, bylaw, paramedics and public works, with extra costs exceeding $1 million per day.

The protest started Jan. 28.

The city and police force have indicated they’ll ask for upper-government funding to offset the expenses.

While a community-led injunction application was partially successful on Monday, with a judge agreeing to a 10-day ban on honking , the city hasn’t launched its own injunction application to curb annoying and illegal behaviour.

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Councillors wanted to know more about how police are stopping deliveries of fuel to trucks occupying downtown streets. Police moved in on the protest logistics camp on Coventry Road on Sunday night, targeting fuel supplies. There were still pictures of gas cans circulating around downtown Monday.

Sloly said officers were empowered to seize gas cans and make arrests, but protesters are finding ways to run decoy operations by filling some cans with water.

At the same time, there have been challenges securing towing services, which could help remove hundreds of rigs from the core. The city is even having problems convincing tow companies on its own standing offer list to provide those services.

The city is exploring other enforcement options outside of policing.

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City manager Steve Kanellakos said the city is talking with the provincial government about going after truckers’ insurance and commercial vehicle licences.

Meanwhile, Ottawa police have been targeted by crank calls for emergencies, known “swatting”, and those have prompted investigations in the U.S.  Deputy police Chief Steve Bell said a threat made to the police headquarters on Elgin Street led to an investigation in the U.S. with a person arrested in Putnam County, Ohio.

Councillors tabled about a dozen motions during the special meeting. Several of the resolutions called for resources from the upper governments to stop the protest, help businesses and assist social services. Council also approved a motion calling for an independent review of the response.

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Coun. Jeff Leiper asked for a “breather” on some of the city hall’s legislative agenda over the next two weeks, but council refused in a 14-10 vote after Watson urged colleagues not to give protesters the “bonus” of shutting down Ottawa’s municipal government.

Overall, councillors expressed frustration about law enforcement’s inability to end the protest.

“The federal government has lost control of its capital,” said Coun. Catherine McKenney, who has called on the feds to take over policing in the parliamentary precinct in their Somerset ward to free up Ottawa police officers. Council backed McKenney’s request.

Coun. Catherine Kitts asked Sloly about the future of policing in the nation’s capital and the lack of a comprehensive plan for this kind of uprising.

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Sloly responded: “There are lessons to be learned, good, bad and ugly, out of what has taken place here.”

jwilling@postmedia.com

twitter.com/JonathanWilling

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