After claiming an incident involving a group of young Black men filming a music video at St. Laurent Mall in late December was the subject of "a massive misinformation online, in mainstream media, and within the community," Ottawa's police chief says the service initially responded as if a legitimate crime was underway.
During the Ottawa Police Services Board meeting on Monday, February 22, Chief Peter Sloly detailed the Ottawa Police Services' (OPS) response in the incident that took place on December 27, 2020, at approximately 7 p.m.
He says, after getting word from security guards at the mall about people in a vehicle passing around a handgun, officers were dispatched and arrived on scene shortly after. The group of men were surrounded by police and initially handcuffed, but Sloly says they were released without charges after officers discovered the handgun was a prop and a music video was being filmed.
"Police officers responded and arrived within four minutes of being dispatched to the area and treated it as a real call for a real crime in progress, that involved a group of people armed with a potentially deadly firearm, which was taking place at a mall frequented by families and children," Sloly explained during Monday's board meeting.
The police chief also released photos from the incident including of the replica firearm, which was seized by police.
Sloly says the replica Beretta MP9 handgun seized is "almost indistinguishable" from the real thing, with the exception that the actual weapon has a larger bore hole, or the hole a projectile is fired through.
He also raised three issues OPS is looking to address over the next three years during the board meeting: improving public trust, duty of care, and community safety and well-being.
Over the next three years, Sloly hopes to see a police service where both community members and service members feel respected, supported, and accepted.