Without the additional requested 1,800 bodies, Ottawa’s police service says it has its hands tied when it comes to properly enforcing existing and newly-given powers amid the truck convoy demonstration.
In a police board meeting via Zoom on Friday, February 11, Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly said that while Premier Doug Ford’s call for a State of Emergency is a welcome move, officers in Ottawa can't do much if they don't have the man power.
The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) made a request for 1,800 additional officers and personnel to help the local police force with the ongoing protests.
And while Sloly confirmed on Thursday, February 10 that OPS had already received some of those officers, the service is still waiting for more to come to town.
Among those requested and approved were 250 RCMP officers, although police did not say if they had received all 250 to date.
“We're doing the best we can with what we have,” Sloly said. “My hope with the additional powers announced today [by the province], we can bring a safer and swimmer end to this demonstration.”
But those additional powers mean almost nothing if they don't have enough boots on the ground to help enforce them, Sloly stressed.
What those additional powers are though are not yet known.
Slowly said he has to wait until after Cabinet and for the Ontario government to provide a list of those newly granted powers.
“New powers give us new tools but without more help we can't enforce,” Sloly said.
The provincial government declared a State of Emergency in Ontario on Friday, detailing that anyone caught breaking the law could face up to $100,000 fine and up to a year jail time.
However, Ottawa isn't the only jurisdiction making request for additional resources. Demonstrations, as Slowly pointed out, are going on across Canada, from Windsor to Coutts, Alta.
And that fact, Slowly said, is making it difficult for Ottawa’s police service to get what they need.
Sloly said he could not divulge specifics of how many officers they've already received as part of their request or plans to address and contain the demonstration this weekend, but their focus is to shrink the downtown Red Zone and step up neighbourhood safety efforts.
While the city anticipates more trucks and protesters to come to Ottawa for the weekend, Slowly said the OPS is better prepared and equipped for the third week of their occupation of the city.
But the message is still the same: “Don't come — you're not welcome here.”