Ottawa’s next police chief: Our vision for a community leader

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With the recent retirement of Charles Bordeleau in May, the Ottawa Police Services Board is holding public consultations as part of its hiring process for the next Chief of Police. United Way’s Board Chair Karen Williams and President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Allen submitted a joint letter to the Ottawa Police Services Board Chair Diane Deans for consideration as they take this important decision.

Councillor Diane Deans
Chair, Ottawa Police Services Board
Ottawa City Hall

Re: Consultation Regarding the Recruitment for Chief of the Ottawa Police Service

Chair Deans:

On behalf of the Board and staff of United Way, we want to commend the Ottawa Police Services Board for opening this process to community consultation. The Chief of Police is a critical role for the direction we take as a city. Given the close partnership we share with the City of Ottawa and our police service, we welcome the opportunity to contribute to this process. We would respectfully request that this communication also be shared with Ottawa Police Services Board members.

Ottawa is a growing, prosperous city and we have so much to be proud of. Because we have a great city in which to live, play, work, grow up and grow old – it’s up to all of us to make sure we keep it that way. Our Chief of Police must not only understand what role our police service has in protecting our community, but also hold a community leadership role.

As you well know, the root of many enforcement issues often starts far earlier than when a crime is committed. Poverty, systemic exclusion, a lack of social cohesion and mental health challenges frequently go hand in hand, and none of us have the capacity to tackle these root causes on our own. To that end, we believe some of the qualities that would serve Ottawa and its police force best include the following attitudes and characteristics:

  • A deep appreciation for and orientation toward community policing – with proven capability to work in a proactive partnership with citizens to identify and solve problems at the neighbourhood level; as well as a commitment to align resources and supports to be effective.
  • A demonstrated ability to engage broad groups of stakeholders and to work collaboratively toward solutions.
  • A vision for and ability to lead a diverse workforce that is reflective of the community and its values, and has the ability to grow alongside the citizens it serves.
  • A track record for transparency and public accountability when it comes to setting and delivering on shared community goals.
  • A demonstrated commitment to the ongoing training and development of OPS members to ensure they have the best skills and tools to engage constructively with our growing, changing community.

We need our next Chief of Police to be fully committed to working collaboratively to ensure Ottawa is, and remains, a strong, healthy, safe community for all. In acknowledgement of the strong working relationship required between the Ottawa Police Service and United Way, we reserve a dedicated seat on our Board of Directors for the Chief of Police. When our new Chief of Police is selected, we will extend a warm welcome to that individual to join our Board.

In summary, we appreciate the task before you is a great responsibility, but want to thank you again for including community voices in this incredibly important decision. We wish you well in your process and pledge our support to the Ottawa Police Services Board and the new Chief.

A photo of Karen Williams

Karen Williams
Chair, Board of Directors

A photo of Michael Allen

Michael Allen
President and CEO

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