The "main reason" the Ottawa police board must recruit a third permanent deputy chief is that it continues to pay for and backfill the position vacated by a senior officer suspended amid sexual harassment allegations, the board chair said Monday.
Last week, the police board announced it would launch a national search to hire a third deputy chief for the service. The board gave no timeline on when it would hire the senior officer or have the successful candidate in the role.
In announcing the search, the board referenced the need for stability at the service but stopped short of acknowledging why there has been constant backfilling of the force's second-most senior role.
"The main reason we are conducting this recruitment is because one of our current deputies is on suspension and has been since March of 2020," Coun. Diane Deans said Monday during the board's policy and governance committee meeting.
"There have been a number of acting deputies temporarily filling that position since that time. However, this has led to instability at the executive command level, which the board is looking to correct through this hiring process."
Disciplinary hearing continues next month
The service currently has two deputy chief positions, one of which has been temporarily filled by various superintendents since March 2020 when the board suspended Deputy Chief Uday Jaswal with pay.
Jaswal was charged in 2020 with six counts of misconduct — three counts of discreditable conduct and three counts of insubordination — for allegedly sexually harassing three female Ottawa Police Service employees. Those charges are currently before an ongoing disciplinary hearing, which is set to resume in February.
Those are not the only charges Jaswal faces. In April 2021, Jaswal was further charged for an alleged attempt to bargain away a Durham police officer's own misconduct charges in exchange for information — including that "of a sexual nature" about senior leaders on that force. Those charges date back to his time serving as deputy chief of that service.
He remains suspended with pay as an Ottawa police officer, which means after recruiting a new deputy chief, taxpayers will continue paying four salaries.
The board said last week the new deputy chief job "will be funded using gap position funding from existing operating dollars that supports the current acting deputy position and will have no increased impact on the budget."
By law in Ontario, the board cannot suspend Jaswal without pay. Deans said the board continues to lobby for the ability to suspend some police officers without pay.
In 2020, a year in which he spent 9 months not working, Jaswal claimed $261,635.60 in salary and benefits. His salary for 2021 has not yet been publicly disclosed.