Ottawa’s Police Chief Resigns Amid Controversy
By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
Ottawa’s Police Chief Peter Sloly has resigned
Reports started to surface Tuesday morning that Sloly, who has been Chief since May 2019, was stepping aside after much criticism in recent weeks for how the Ottawa Police Force has dealt with ongoing protests downtown.
At least one city councillor has confirmed the news, along with other news outlets.
Sloly’s contract was sent to expire in 2024.
Sloly said there were never any plans for a demonstration of this size, and that policing may have not been the solution to get protestors to go home. He said the force had to adjust “day by day.”
The demonstrations which many call a siege, is now on day 19. The truckers are showing no signs of going home, despite many provinces lifting most COVID-19 restrictions.
The truckers say they won’t go home until federal COVID-19 mandates are also lifted, including vaccine mandates at the Canada/US border. The Trudeau Liberal government says that won’t be happening for now.
The Ottawa Police Services Board called a special meeting for Tuesday morning, but it was then postponed until 2:30 pm. It can be streamed on the Ottawa City Council YouTube page.
Optimism Turns to Chaos
When Peter Sloly was first hired by Ottawa Police as Chief, , there was hope it would change the force for the better.
The plan was to reform the police service from the inside, removing a broken culture which dominated headlines. That included removing the racial divide that took place by Ottawa Police and the Black community, a relationship which soured after the arrest and death of Abdirahman Abdi.
Sloly was the first Black person to lead the Ottawa Police Service.
When he was introduced as new chief of the city, Sloly asked residents to judge him by what he does, not what he looks like. Before the meeting got underway, he prayed with a group of supporters for success.
Sloly was former Deputy Chief in the Toronto Police Services.
“I believe that my lived experience will give me some advantages,” said Sloly in May 2019, “And I believe that what I’ve gone through, succeeded in and struggled in — and occasionally failed in — will allow me to bring a sense of wisdom and compassion to very difficult circumstances.”
Sloly also committed to strengthening community policing, including in communities such as Barrhaven which many feel went underrepresented. The service came under scrutiny two years prior when they cut back on community policing through restructuring.
Coun. Diane Deans confirmed during that May 2019 meeting that Sloly beat out 18 other candidates. He applied for the job years prior, but it went to former Ottawa Police Chief Vern White instead.
Ottawa Police will now need to choose a deputy chief to take over the role until a permanent candidate is found.
Many have also called for a review to be done on how the Ottawa Police Services handled the ongoing demonstrations downtown, and what more could have been done.
A number of city councillors have been vocal about their discontent for how police have handled the situation.
Barrhaven city councillor Jan Harder said she felt police should have acted sooner to put barriers at the site to prevent truckers from ever getting in. Gloucester-South Nepean councillor Carol Anne Meehan, who sits on the Ottawa Police Services Board, called on Sloly to bring forward a plan to end the siege.
Just days ago Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he felt the Ottawa Police hadn’t yet maximized their resources. Meehan pressed Sloly on the issue, who said he wouldn’t respond because he hadn’t yet heard the Prime Minister’s speech.
Meehan then again told the Chief what he said and asked if he agreed with the opinion. Sloly again didn’t respond.
CBC News Ottawa is now reporting Sloly has been “accused of bullying and volatile behaviour that has damaged relations with senior leadership and compromised the force’s ability to cope with the truck protest.”
Sources told CBC News that Sloly allegedly came “into conflict with members of the OPP and RCMP tasked with assisting the city’s law enforcement efforts during the crisis.”
We are expected to hear more about Sloly’s resignation at todays Ottawa Police Services Board meeting.