Police board chair tells mayor he's out of touch with crime prevention

·2 min read
In addition to chairing the police services board, Coun. Diane Deans is the chair of Crime Prevention Ottawa and told CBC she spends several hours a day working on these issues.  (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)
In addition to chairing the police services board, Coun. Diane Deans is the chair of Crime Prevention Ottawa and told CBC she spends several hours a day working on these issues. (Jean Delisle/CBC - image credit)

The chair of the Ottawa police services board says the mayor is out of touch with the work being done to combat crime in the city.

Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans publicly released a scathing letter to Mayor Jim Watson Thursday afternoon after Watson met with the police chief and other leaders about violent crime last weekend.

At Wednesday's meeting, Watson announced the creation of a leadership table of community partners to work on a holistic solution to crime in the city. He also said there would likely be more money for police.

Deans said she wasn't invited.

She is the chair of Crime Prevention Ottawa along with the police services board and told CBC she spends several hours a day working on these issues.

She said she doesn't know why she was left out, but charged that the mayor does not engage with members of council who don't agree with him — and she would have disagreed with more police funding.

"I thought that was far too simplistic a solution to a very complex issue," she said.

Francis Ferland/CBC
Francis Ferland/CBC

Watson's press secretary told CBC News in an email the mayor meets "almost daily" with various leaders and officials to address city-wide concerns.

Patrick Champagne said Watson is always open to talking with councillors about their concerns, but the mayor's office has no record of Deans reaching out after two shootings and a stabbing over the long weekend.

Plan already in the works

In Deans' letter, she offers to "introduce" the mayor to existing work including the city's community safety and well-being plan, which she said is in its final stages.

It's expected to be presented to the city's community and protective services committee this fall.

She said the draft plan focuses on the same issues the mayor wants addressed: discrimination, poverty reduction, housing and mental well-being.

"We need to look at all the root causes and we need to be properly funding youth programming, housing and food security issues," she said, adding she was impressed with police Chief Peter Sloly's statements to this effect.

Radio-Canada
Radio-Canada

She also pointed to Crime Prevention Ottawa and plans by Ottawa police and city staff to develop a mental health response strategy.

"When the mayor leaves the impression that we're underfunding the police and that we need to form a committee to address these issues, it sounds like there isn't important work happening in our community. And there certainly is," she said.

She said she wrote Watson a few months ago with an offer for her, as police board chair and police Chief Peter Sloly to present quarterly updates to council — which she said Watson declined.

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