Re: Citizen editorial "More policing for the big city", February 25

See also op ed piece submitted by John Baglow

Supposedly the Ottawa police budget increase of $15.3 million (11.3%) is justified because of "big-city problems such as gang-violence" and "traffic lawlessness." However, the police's own statistics don't support this.

Ironically, some of the massive cuts to other municipal services will guarantee the need for more policing. For example, cuts to youth services will necessitate more police to oversee youth who don't know what to do with themselves or who aren't receiving needed treatment. This is bad public policy that ultimately costs more money. The increase for the police budget could support many threatened municipal health, community, social, environmental, recreational, and cultural services.

The OPS has squandered resources such as: numerous cruisers and officers to arrest Somali community members based on a bogus 911 call; arrest of protest leaders on charges that were later thrown out as unsupportable; and massive resources to evict unarmed homelessness protesters at an abandoned building, now demolished. This begs the question why police resources cannot be better managed instead of soliciting the city for more.

The OPS results record is weak in some areas. Despite this, the budget cuts training by 15%. This does not bode well for improvement of this record or of instances concerning questionable officer behaviour such as apparent racial profiling.

Civilian oversight is also not addressed by the budget since Police Services Board funding is reduced and problems with the complaints system are not addressed.

While the Police Services Act permits municipal council to only accept or reject the police budget, given the city's fiscal situation, it is unconscionable if the Police Services Board does not allow council to suggest how OPS economies may be achieved.  Why should the police been immune from the same fiscal rigour as other municipal services?

Aileen Leo
Member, Ottawa Witness Group