'We made mistakes, there's no doubt,' says new OPS chief
Stubbs apologizes for OPS 'mistakes' detailed in Rouleau report
Speaking with reporters following the tabling of the final report from Public Order Emergency commissioner Paul Rouleau, Chief Eric Stubbs said the Ottawa Police Service is "fully committed" to restoring public trust.
As the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) apologizes for the mistakes it made during last winter's convoy occupation, those who lived through it are reflecting on their frayed trust in authorities one year later.
"I used to [trust police]. Now, I don't know," said Ottawa resident Martynn Crooy Friday, after commissioner Paul Rouleau released his report on the decision to invoke the Emergencies Act to end the convoy protests.
"Certain police officers, I trust them. As a group it leaves you really wondering."
"The policing was pretty pathetic," added Philip Hannan, another resident. "They did let us down."
The resurfacing of emotions comes as Rouleau's report blamed Ottawa police for failing to properly assess the intelligence that had been gathered.
Rouleau said that both enabled and exacerbated the ensuing occupation, which overran parts of Ottawa's downtown for several weeks.
'We do apologize'
"We made mistakes, there's no doubt," said OPS Chief Eric Stubbs in an interview Monday. "And it greatly affected a number of residents in Ottawa, a number of businesses and we do apologize for that."
Stubbs, who began his job in November, replaced former chief Peter Sloly after he resigned partway through the weeks-long demonstrations.
He said the force has learned lessons and strengthened the way it shares information, including with city hall, the Ottawa Police Services Board and other agencies.
Rouleau's report also laid some blame at the feet of the police board, noting it could have done more to push for details of the OPS operational plan and that it didn't raise certain discrepancies it was hearing.
On Friday, former board chair Diane Deans said the reporting relationship between the board and the service largely comes from the chief.
"And the police chief was questioned about that time and time again," she said. "And you will recall [that] even publicly he stated that he would be very surprised if the protesters were still here on Monday."
"I mean, with the benefit of hindsight, knowing what we know now, could we have probed more? I think probably we could have," she continued.
Deans was ousted as chair during an infamous council meeting on Feb. 16, 2022, after news leaked the board had swiftly hired an interim police chief following Sloly's departure, without a competition and without telling council.
Heed report's findings, says former councillor
Former Somerset ward councillor Catherine McKenney said that while this specific type of event may never happen again, Rouleau's recommendations should be taken seriously and similar threats should be acted on more quickly.
"Looking back, there was no doubt in our minds — and when I say our [I mean] myself and other residents who saw what was happening just through social media accounts — it was easy to understand this convoy was coming," McKenney said.
"I don't think it took much intelligence. We saw what was happening."
Sloly's leadership choices and decisions were also criticized in the report, but Rouleau said it would be too easy to make him the scapegoat.
Stubbs said the force is now reviewing Rouleau's recommendations.
"All Ottawa police members work hard every day to keep this community safe," Stubbs said, reading a prepared statement. "We understand that trust in policing has been eroded during this past year [and] we are fully committed to restoring that trust."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joseph Tunney is a reporter for CBC News in Ottawa. He can be reached at email@example.com
With files from Natalia Goodwin
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca