Ottawa Police Implodes Under Chief Bordeleau's Mis-management

Favouritism and improprieties are some of the allegations that have been on the heels of Ottawa Police Services (OPS) since 2014. The Chair of the Ottawa Police Service Board (OPSB) has continued to live in denial, refusing to acknowledge the issues raised about the OPS, or take actions. This has led to an outcry for the Chair’s resignation by the Ottawa Police Association (OPA).

In response, the Mayor told those who are not satisfied with their job at OPS to walk away. Till date, not much has changed as related issues have continued to raise their ugly head in the OPS. Ignorance of legislation and flagrant abuse of the institution in favour of the minority has been speculated to be the root cause.

The hope of a positive change diminishes if the same people perceived to be the perpetrators of the problem are tasked with fixing it. One of the recent pointers to trouble was the result of the OPS employee satisfaction survey and the Ontario Human Rights Commission ordered OPS gender audit.

45 percent of those who participated in the employee satisfaction survey openly expressed their dissatisfaction with the civilian Director General, Chief, and Keeley, the then Deputy Chief. 28 percent were neutral while two-thirds were grateful to be part of the OPS – less than half recommended OPS for job seekers. The result of the gender audit was worse.

The abysmal nature of both results proved insufficient to make the Chief acknowledge the gaping need to find a solution to the discontent expressed by the OPS employees. Unchecked frustrations occasioned by the inaction and silence of the Chief made several members of OPS go public. In defence, the OPSB Chair, El Chantiry Said, “one or two discontented officers do not speak for the entire force”.

The limitations of OPA members from obtaining fair hearing are captured by Valarie Findlay, “OPS members only have access to internal complaints processes or the OPA; they cannot complain through the office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) or Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC).”

Two of the six binding principles of the PSA address human rights and equality but the statement and body language of the Chair clearly indicates that some are greater than others. Although the PSA’s legislation has been modified several times to meet the changing societal trends and values, a recent article by the Chair “Here’s how to reform policing in Ontario” suggests that the PSA is out-dated legislation.

More legislation reform is not the solution. “Legislation will not cure organizational issues and any attempt to reform policing at organizational level is futile without first addressing systemic or recurring misconduct: that begins with removing those who perpetrate it, instilling new leadership who instils confidence, renewing policies to guide the transformation of the culture and demonstrating commitment through core values, upheld as organizational principles,” said Findlay, “reformation relies on a collaborative relationship between police and the public; it cannot survive when designed in isolation or through unilateral decision-making”. 

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