2021 Ottawa police draft budget includes 30 new officers, increased focus on mental health, neighbourhood policing

OTTAWA — The draft 2021 Ottawa Police Services budget includes 30 new police officers, a new focus on mental health and an expansion of neighbourhood policing.

The draft budget was tabled Wednesday morning at a special Ottawa Police Services Board meeting ahead of the City Council meeting where the city’s draft budget will be unveiled.

The budget comes in at $376.4 million ($332.5 million net operating budget) with a three per cent tax increase for police services. Police estimate the cost of policing in Ottawa will rise by $19 for the average household.

According to a breakdown from the Police Services Board, $11.3 million will be spent in 2021 to maintain police services and $3.9 million is earmarked for the hiring of 30 new officers. $1.6 million has been set aside for COVID-19 pandemic measures. The police service reports $2.7 million in savings in the 2021 draft budget, including better technological integration with City services and reduced spending on travel to conferences and events due to the pandemic.

The budget includes spending on a multi-year strategy to improve responses to calls involving mental health distress. This involves additional training for officers, working with community groups and hiring additional mental health professionals for the 911 call centre. There will be four new positions focused on improving the overall health and wellness of Ottawa police members. 

The community policing model known as “neighbourhood resource teams” (NRTs) is getting a boost. The budget includes 20 new permanent NRT officers and five new community police officers.

Additional training focused on mental health, intersectionality and anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism is also included in the budget. The police service has also developed a third party process for all types of harassment including sexual harassment.

Five new sexual assault and child abuse investigators will be hired.

“Our members proudly serve the residents of this city and we have heard the calls for change. This budget responds to those calls. We are listening and learning and we have produced a budget designed to move policing forward while continuing to provide the services our residents need now and in the future,” said Chief Peter Sloly in a press release Wednesday morning.

“The Ottawa Police Service Board has spoken openly about the need to bring meaningful change to the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) and I believe the 2021 Draft Operating and Capital Budget shows a commitment to that work,” said Coun. Diane Deans, Chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board. 

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