As the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests continue to occupy downtown Ottawa, city police say they currently have more than 150 active criminal investigations and have issued thousands of tickets in connection with the crisis.
At a special meeting of the Ottawa Police Services Board on Tuesday, Feb. 15, Acting Deputy Chief Trish Ferguson said the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) has 172 active criminal investigations and has distributed nearly 3,000 tickets.
Additionally, the OPS has made 18 arrests and laid 33 charges to date.
Ferguson added that the number of protesters remaining in downtown Ottawa has dropped significantly.
When the protests began, she said there were more than 4,000 vehicles occupying downtown Ottawa.
Now there were fewer than 150 protesters overnight and fewer than 360 vehicles remaining.
“The overall footprint of the protest remains more or less the same, although a small number of lorries have been moved from inner city residential areas to Wellington Street opposite Parliament (Hill),” the leader said. Acting Deputy Trish Ferguson. “It was the result of negotiations that took place between the mayor and some of the protesters.”
However, the chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board has expressed dissatisfaction with the way the OPS has handled the ongoing “Freedom Convoy” protests.
“Frankly, the response to this crisis so far has been ineffective in ending this occupation and restoring peace and security to Ottawa,” Diane Deans said at the special meeting. “The OPS has been unable to adequately enforce our laws and our residents continue to be terrorized – this is not enough.
“Like other Ottawa residents, I watched in disbelief as this carnival of chaos continued.”
While acknowledging that the OPS was operating with a lack of resources, she criticized the lack of action being taken with current resources, calling it “confusing and frustrating.”
On Monday February 7, former Chief Peter Sloly requested 1,800 additional officers and civilians to help the OPS manage the protests. But at a police board meeting on Friday, Feb. 11, Sloly said officers in Ottawa couldn’t do much without the extra manpower.
“We appreciate that the community wants us to increase our enforcement actions, although as we’ve said from the start, we’re managing safety and security throughout,” Ferguson said. “This means that we may not always be able to issue a charge or ticket to an individual due to a specific security or safety issue at the time. This does not mean that it cannot be done. later by different means of service.
Ferguson said the OPS will continue to gather evidence and work with partners to ensure there are consequences going forward.
This means the OPS will do months of follow-up investigative work to bring the necessary charges, no matter where a person lives.
Last weekend, the OPS announced the creation of an “integrated command center” to help police respond to protests from the trucking convoy.
The center, led by the SPO, will give the force a structured framework to manage the occupation.
“The ICC will allow for oversight and coordination or planning and logistical supports, and the experts that continue to arrive from across the country,” she said. “These experts bring with them a great level of knowledge and experience to respond to such protracted protests and will be essential… as we move forward.
“Finally, the ICC will help provide strategic communications to all parties, including members of the public, the media and our law enforcement partners.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Sloly’s resignation as head of the OPS was announced, following criticism over his handling of the ongoing protests.
But with the new integrated command center and tools put in place by the government, Acting Chief Steve Bell said he was positive about where the OPS is going in the weeks to come.
“The illegal occupation has been a tremendous stress on our community, everyone who lives in Ottawa, and has posed unprecedented challenges to both the police department and the city as a whole,” Bell said. “I know it has been difficult, I know it continues to be difficult. But I am convinced that we have reached a turning point.
“With the new resources we’ve seen pouring in from our law enforcement partners…I think we now have the resources and the partners to end this occupation safely.”