Children living in nearly 25% of trucks in Ottawa protests: Deputy Chief

By Chris Stoodley

Ottawa police are facing numerous complexities and challenges related to the ongoing “Freedom Convoy” protests in the city's downtown core, one being the number of children who are living in more than 100 trucks.

“Through intelligence, we’ve learned that almost 25 per cent of the 418 trucks encamped in our city have children living in them — children who could be at risk during a police operation,” Ottawa Police Service (OPS) Deputy Chief Steve Bell said during a Tuesday, February 8 media update.

“It’s something that greatly concerns us.”

The OPS is currently working with the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) to ensure the safety of the children.

While children reside in some of the big rigs, Bell said they're exposed to numerous risks such as carbon monoxide, noise levels, cold and proper sanitation.

But before the OPS moves ahead on enforcement, Bell said the police force must plan with the CAS and its partners.

During the media update, Bell couldn't provide a timeline for when protesters would be cleared out of the city.

However, he said a resolution was being hampered by demonstrators and supporters who “subvert police efforts” by immobilizing trucks and filling gas canisters with water to confuse officers, who have been ordered to crack down on people bringing fuel to the truckers.

In a media briefing on Monday, February 7, Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly told reporters that the OPS “cannot do this alone” and would send a list of requests to Mayor Jim Watson including resources the police force needs going forward.

One of those requests included 1,800 more officers and civilian personnel to help with the ongoing protests — help that would raise Ottawa’s convoy policing costs to about $2.5 million a day.

Bell said the “recent aggressiveness” on police is “unacceptable,” adding that the OPS doesn't want to see anyone get injured and wants the demonstrations to end as soon as possible.

“Our members are tired; they are very tired,” he said. “They go out every single day down to our downtown core to try and take back a portion of our city that's been lost to this occupation.”

With files from CityNews' Michael Talbot

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