Ottawa police receive fewer calls for service during COVID-19 pandemic year

OTTAWA — Ottawa police officers received fewer requests for service last year, as demand declined “dramatically” at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report for the Ottawa Police Services Board shows there were 314,000 requests for service in 2020, compared to 369,000 requests in 2019.

Staff say there was a nine per cent drop in calls received through the OPS dispatch system, while online reporting requests dropped by 19 per cent.

The report says prior to the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency last March, demand for Ottawa police service was on the rise.

“With businesses, facilities providing recreational programs, public libraries, schools, child care centres, bars and restaurants, and performance venues ordered to close in order to curb community transmission demand declined dramatically in the second quarter,” said the report for Monday’s Ottawa Police Services Board meeting.

“With the government’s reopening plan for Ontario, demand returned to historical norms in the third quarter.”

Staff say during the modified Stage 2 COVID-19 restrictions through October and November, demand declined by 16 per cent in the fourth quarter.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the community safety and well-being of everyone in our Nation’s Capital,” said the report. “This is reflected far beyond the quantitative data in this report alone. The Ottawa Police Service has worked in partnership with Ottawa Public Health and a wide variety of city partners to achieve mutually desired public health and community resiliency outcomes.”

The report does say there was a 20 per cent decline in the number of criminal offences reported last year.

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