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Ottawa police used 'disproportionate' force in 2022, report says

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According to the report, officers of the Ottawa Police Service used force against 284 people in 2022. (File photo)


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New report finds Ottawa Police Service (OPS) officers used disproportionate force against Black people and people from the Middle East in 2022.

According to the report to be presented to the Ottawa Police Services Board on Monday, officers used force against 284 people that year.

Among these people, 70 were black, or a quarter of the people subjected to force by the SPO agents, reveals the report.

Black people are over-represented [in a proportion] of 3.1 times their share of the resident population of Ottawa, we can read in the report.

Officers most often used force against Black people in response to calls about weapons, accounting for 23% of all situations where Black people were subjected to force.

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Although people from the Middle East only represented 6% of the population in Ottawa in 2021, they constitute 10% of subjects who were subject to use of force. The report indicates that 28 people of this ethnocultural background were subject to the use of force.

One population that was not over-represented in 2022 was Indigenous people, which is a change from 2021. At the time, even though they only represented 2% of Ottawa's population, they made up 6% of all people subjected to force by officers.

Overall, the report indicates that the percentage of use of force incidents involving racialized subjects dropped by 48% in 2020 and 2021 and by 42% in 2022.

The report notes that police officers in Ontario are required to submit a use of force report to the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General every time they draw or use a handgun as well as when ;#x27;they hurt someone in a way that requires medical attention.

The type of force used by officers in 2022 primarily consisted of drawing, displaying, or pointing a firearm or taser, according to the report.

The report also notes that in June 2022, three officers fired their handguns during a response to a police case. #x27;stabbing during which two women died and a third was injured.

The president of Nord-Sud Développement, Racines et Culture Canada, César Ndéma-Moussa, regrets not being surprised by the figures contained in the new report.

He recognizes that there has been progress in recent years, but it is still too much, he insists.< /p>Open in full screen mode

The president of Nord-Sud Développement, Racines et Culture Canada, César Ndéma-Moussa. (Archive photo)

The police must be given credit for using data since 2020 racial in relation to its interventions, particularly when force is used, nevertheless underlines Mr. Ndéma-Moussa.

According to him, the report demonstrates that there are indeed systemic problems in terms of racial profiling […] in the city of Ottawa despite the training, despite the fact that we recognize that racism exists and that we say that we want to give ourselves the means to combat this.

In practice, even the Ottawa police cannot deny that it is disproportionate, says César Ndéma-Moussa.

According to an emeritus professor at the University of Ottawa specializing in criminology, Irvin Waller, we really need to start being a lot more scientific on issues of violence and mental crisis.

Mr. Waller suggests establishing a mental health crisis response service independent of the police service, in order to reduce the number of interactions with the police service and […] to reduce violence.

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Irvin Waller is professor emeritus at the University of Ottawa and specialized in criminology. (Archive photo)

It is often believed that [a] better training of police officers could solve this problem, says Mr. Waller. But it's obvious that it's far from enough.

Irvin Waller advances the theory that racialized people are very afraid of the police because there are quite a few headlines reporting exaggerated violence against racialized people.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">For me, the solution is really to divert these incidents, to take them to the police, except in the case where a health professional called the police to offer help, Mr. Waller suggests. I believe that we need to first talk about intelligent community safety planning.

With information from Amadou Barry and CBC News

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116