Chief vows to make changes in Ottawa police after CBC investigation into sexism

·2 min read
'It is a major priority for me. I take it very personally,' says Peter Sloly, the Ottawa police chief, about allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct within the force.
'It is a major priority for me. I take it very personally,' says Peter Sloly, the Ottawa police chief, about allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct within the force.

(Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press - image credit)

The chief of the Ottawa Police Service says he is committed to making significant and sustainable changes within the service, especially for women.

Chief Peter Sloly's comments come in the wake of a CBC Fifth Estate investigation into allegations of sexism, for which he declined an interview. The report found that at least 14 women, both sworn officers and civilian employees, had reported being sexually abused or harassed by Ottawa police officers in the past three years.

Speaking to media before an OPS board meeting Monday, Sloly said there is "absolutely no tolerance for this going on in an organization" but that the service is "not going to be able to solve decades-old problems within a year or even several years."

"It is a major priority for me. I take it very personally and I will do my very best throughout my entire tenure as chief of police to work with the chair, the board and all members of the service to move this forward," Sloly said.

Workplace review underway

When asked by CBC News why cases of sexual harassment and misconduct within the OPS have taken so long to resolve, Sloly said the intake process for complaints "can sometimes be clumsy and dealt with inappropriately and inconsistently."

"Investigations themselves can sometimes be lengthy or it's not done in the right way. [It] can miss critical points from the victim's standpoint," he said.

Last October, Sloly announced the hiring of the law firm Rubin Thomlinson LLP, which specializes in workplace sexual harassment investigations. Sloly said access to an independent investigator would encourage more women to come forward to report incidents.

Since being hired in October, Rubin Thomlinson is actively investigating two allegations of sexual violence and 14 other cases of workplace harassment.

Two cases have been deemed outside the firm's scope.