‘We have a problem,’ acting police chief admits


Ottawa police call in OPP to investigate new allegations of mishandling of people in custody


Acting Chief Gilles Larochelle says he's confident that, with the right measures, the force will come out of its current troubles stronger than ever.

Photograph by: Jean Levac, The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Citizen





OTTAWA — “We have a problem, no doubt about it."

With those words, Gilles Larochelle, Ottawa’s acting chief of police, announced that he’d called in the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate two more allegations that his officers mistreated people in the central cellblock.

“I am extremely concerned with the fact that we are learning of more incidents related to how Ottawa Police deals with individuals in our custody,” he said Tuesday at a news conference, explaining that he’d heard about the two incidents only in recent days.

He refused to identify the officers involved or their accusers, saying the cases are before the courts. The incidents were apparently brought to the attention of the police

department by Crown prosecutors.

Later, when asked to specify the “problem,” Larochelle would only say the cases “bring into question the actions” of police officers working in the central cellblock. However, neither incident involved injuries sufficiently serious to warrant calling in the province’s Special Investigations Unit, which investigates cases where civilians are killed or injured by police.

These latest accusations of police misconduct involving prisoners could not come at a worse time.

Ottawans have already been outraged and offended by reports that a young woman, Stacy Bonds, was manhandled while in police custody in 2008.

Late last month, an Ontario Court judge condemned Bonds’ arrest as “unlawful” and criticized police after seeing a video that showed a special constable kneeing her in the left thigh and buttocks while she resisted being held and searched. Bonds later appears to kick the special constable, prompting two male officers to force her to the floor, while a third uses a riot shield to restrain her thrashing legs and a fourth — also a man — cuts off her shirt and bra to carry out a strip search.

Already the Special Investigations Unit is looking into the Bonds case. And since that incident came to light, others have come forward claiming mistreatment by police.

Larochelle, who is filling in for Chief Vern White while he is out of the country, said he decided to call in the OPP in an effort to assure Ottawans that the police department is more than willing to be held accountable for the conduct of its officers. “We also strive to serve the people of Ottawa in a transparent and professional way,” he told reporters. “We have a problem, no doubt about it, and we need to identify the issues so that we can take measures to correct them.”

He said senior officers are auditing other cellblock videotapes, giving priority to those that involve individuals currently before the courts.

Besides bringing in the OPP, Larochelle has also approved hiring an as yet unnamed consulting firm to conduct “a thorough review of our current policies and training.” He said he expects the review to focus on how police should handle public drunkenness, strip-search procedures and the operations of the cellblock. The results of the review will be submitted to the Police Services Board, the civilian agency that oversees the department.

As well, Larochelle said the department would look to improve the skills of those who work in the cellblock, provide more use-of-force training to special constables, and review the procedures and protocols cellblock officers are expected to follow.

Finally, the department will also supplement the existing video monitoring equipment with audio equipment. “Audio is a priority for us in the cellblock,” he said. “It will assist us ... in helping us to get officers to articulate the actions that they do in dealing with prisoners.”

Behind the audio installation is a sense that video alone does not capture the full scope and context of what police officers often deal with in their cellblock duties.

Larochelle acknowledged as much when, in response to a reporter’s question, he conceded that techniques officers use to subdue unruly or abusive prisoners may look harsh on camera when, in fact, they are the most effective way to quickly end a situation that threatens the prisoner, the police officer, or both.

It’s a point others picked up on, too. “To somebody who isn’t in this field of work, and isn’t trained in use-of-force techniques, they can look harsh,” said Steve Boucher, president of the Ottawa Police Association. “But, in fact, they (police officers) are doing everything they can to minimize injuries to the prisoner or to themselves.”

West Carleton-March Councillor Eli El-Chantiry, chairman of the Police Services Board, concurred. Dismissing any suggestion that the problems currently facing the police department are systemic, he pointed out that the police handle 400,000 calls a year and process at least 10,000 people through the cellblock each year. “Even one incident (of prisoner abuse) is one incident too many, but we have to put (these allegations) in perspective. It’s not a hotel. It’s a cellblock.”

Both El-Chantiry and Boucher welcomed the OPP presence. “The Ottawa Police Association has faith in the processes mandated by law to investigate conduct,” Boucher said. “We are satisfied that a third party will thoroughly investigate these matters.”

“Hopefully, we can get to the bottom of this with a full report to the public,” said El-Chantiry, expressing confidence that once the reviews and investigations are concluded, public trust in the police will be restored. He said he hopes to have the OPP appear before the Police Services Board to reinforce the transparent nature of their investigation.

“I don’t believe there will be permanent damage to the police service,” the councillor said. “At the end of the day … we can have full confidence that when you dial the police, they will do a great job for you and your family.”

Larochelle echoed the sentiment. “Ultimately, I’m certain that with the right measures in place, the Ottawa police will emerge from this stronger than ever and deliver the kind of services that our community expects and deserves.”






Gilles Larochelle, has a load of problems that he will never solve and the Police all over Ontario have no interest in solving.

Take a look when you drive around Ottawa, every construction site has a pair of cops, sitting or standing nearby doing nothing, but earning double time on paid duty, robbing private security guards or construction workers of employment.

Its official corruption at it's worst. The Police DEMAND, by local bylaws, they wanted, to ensure that only police MUST be used.

While the cops stand doing nothing, a low paid worker directs traffic, or runs the coffee run for the cops.

The cost, is added into the cost of construction that is born by tax payers, for police to make big bucks per hour for nothing less than public extortion.

Then there is the cost of "police checks", "police records" and host of other fees the public must pay that bear no relation to actual cost.


12:31 PM on December 15, 2010

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"WE have a problem" says Gilles Larochelle, as though an alarm started beeping.

"The problem" has been around since the beginning of time. Absolute power corrupts, police the world over, allover Canada, all over Ontario and Ottawa, typically use "The cells" as a place where they can get away with anything including murder, assaults, threats, death threats, intimidation etc..

If video tapes were retained across Ontario, they would show habitual abuses of power.

Take any cells on any given night, and they will be filled with a collection of men, 50% at least arrested as the result of a 911 call by a woman alleging he was a wife beater when she was the abuser.

Those same men can have blood dripping down their shirts from where she punched him in the mouth and of course, her injured hand was in "self defense.

These cases wind to trial a year later, but, the false allegations and the 911 call / arrest end the children's relationship with their father.

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