Ottawa police want 10 more officers to fight gang violence

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Ottawa police are asking the city to hire 10 new officers in the fall to deal with what they call increasing gun violence.

In a memorandum sent to councillors on Tuesday, mayor Jim Watson and police board chair Eli El-Chantiry said they supported the request and would bring a notice of that support to council.

The federal government announced last year it would commit $327.6 million over five years and $100 million a year thereafter to support initiatives to reduce gun crime and criminal gang activities, Watson and El-Chantiry wrote in the joint memo.

There have been more than a dozen homicides so far this year, including several fatal shootings.

But while the funds were not expected to be available until April 2019, Ottawa Police Services said instead of waiting they want to hire the officers sooner.

The cost of hiring and equipping the officers would be $660,000 in 2018 and put pressure on the 2019 budget, the memo stated, with future costs covered by the federal funding.

The officers would be assigned to address gun violence, either assisting with shooting investigations, investigations into gangs and community based enforcement or suppression initiatives with a focus on prevention and intervention, Watson wrote. 

"Hiring these 10 officers will reinforce our efforts to deal with the increase in shootings and gun violence we are seeing

The earliest the officers would be hired is October.

The request will be formally made at the next meeting of the Ottawa Police Services Board on June 25.