Letter from Chair of OPSB to Witness Group in response to letter of October 1, 2002

Herb Kreling, Chair/Président
Ottawa Police Services Board
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa ON  K1P 1J1
Tel./Tél. (613) 580-2471  Fax/Téléc. (613) 580-2510

29 October 2002

File:  00-02-0028

Ms. Aileen Leo, Spokesperson
Witness Group
(transmitted by email)

Dear Ms. Leo:

I am writing in response to your letter dated 2 October 2002 regarding the presentation you made to the Ottawa Police Services Board on 23 September 2002.

I would like to begin by emphasizing that the Ottawa Police Service is always enthusiastically willing to work with individual citizens and organizations prepared to take responsibility for making our community a safer and better place to live and work.  Safety, security and freedom to speak out and assemble are values that the entire community must work together to protect and enhance.

Many of the concerns and questions raised in your letter will be answered in the response to be posted on the Ottawa Police website (www.ottawapolice.ca) in the coming week.  The response will address the issues of video surveillance, police identification policy, and the removal of by-standers when the police cleared the property at 246 Gilmour Street as well as other matters.

You express concerns in your letter that you were not allowed to interact with Board members and Police staff during the Board meeting on 23 September 2002.  It is standard procedure at all City of Ottawa standing committee meetings that delegations are permitted a certain amount of time (usually five minutes) in which to make their presentation.  The Police Services Board follows the same procedures as City committees.  Once a delegation has finished making their presentation, members of the committee/board are invited by the Chairperson to ask questions or to seek clarification of the delegation.  It is not standard practice for delegations to engage in back-and-forth debate or dialogue with board members or anyone else in attendance.  Allowing this sort of dialogue would make it difficult to maintain control over the meeting, and falls within the general power given to a Chair of a committee or board to control the proceedings of the meeting.

 Witness Group members were afforded the same right and opportunity to speak at the September 23rd board meeting as any other presenter.

While there are definite rules of procedure that govern formal committee and board meetings, I wish to stress that any member of the public is welcome to attend meetings of the board to present their views or attempt to influence the decision-making process. Similarly, any citizen concerned about policing and public safety is encouraged to participate in police-sponsored public meetings.  This includes members of the Witness Group.

As mentioned earlier, the Ottawa Police Service will soon be making available on its website its response to a number of questions raised at a July 17th community consultation meeting held to discuss G8 policing.  Many of the responses will address concerns of The Witness Group.  In addition, work continues on the Agenda for Excellence.

I believe members of the Ottawa Police Service were outstanding in the professional and skilled performance of their duties during G8 events this summer.  This assessment is widely shared outside the Police Service.  For example, in a recent letter, the President of the Civil Liberties Association of the National Capital Region wrote, “I wanted to renew my own, and my Association’s expression of confidence and appreciation for the careful and conscientious way the Ottawa Police responded to the challenges of the G8 demonstrations.”


Herb Kreling, Chair
Ottawa Police Services Board

cc: Members of the Ottawa Police Services Board
Chief V. Bevan
Deputy Chief L. Hill