For Immediate Release
PRESS RELEASE: Community Groups Condemn Proposed Police Budget Increase as Callous Betrayal of Community Trust, Demands City Keep Promise to Freeze or Reduce Budget
OTTAWA - The Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition, the Coalition Against More Surveillance (CAMS) and Horizon Ottawa call on the City of Ottawa and the Finance and Economic Development Committee to respect the Ottawa Police Services Board’s promise to reduce or freeze the 2022 police budget. Last November, during a tense Police Services Board meeting, where over 100 delegates showed up to oppose a police budget increase, board members passed a motion to strike a working group on how the 2022 Ottawa Police budget could be reduced or frozen at 2021 levels. The Chair of the Board, Councillor Diane Deans, gave an interview after the meeting confirming that plan and confirmed it again at yesterday’s Police Services Board Meeting.
Similar to the Police Services Board, FEDCO members also promised to heed the concerns of the community. Last October, Alta Vista Councillor and FEDCO member Jean Cloutier reminded council members of the obligations himself and other councillors have to the "communities that have a deep mistrust for the policing institutions and a deep mistrust for their city council.” Despite this, however, they are once again putting a budget increase back on the table.
“We also have to remember that last October, Ottawa City Council unanimously passed a motion to support the OPSB and their intentions of working to discuss alternative models of community safety responses, including those that allow for a non-police response,” said Samantha McAleese, a member of CAMS. And yet, eight months later, those same Councillors are putting forward a budget direction that betrays their support for the OPSB’s motions to reduce/freeze the 2022 OPS budget, as well as the 100’s of community members who showed up demanding change.
This latest proposed budget increase comes on the heels of over a year of massive protest and resistance not only in Ottawa but across North America, signalling a desire for a mass reallocation of police funding towards things like mental health, housing and other social supports. It also comes after over a year of multiple scandals for the Ottawa Police, including several high-profile cases of violence, assault, and corruption charges.
“Diane Deans and the OPSB should take note: our community does not trust the Ottawa Police Services (OPS) and we have made that clear,” said Alicia-Marie LeJour, co-chair of the Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition. “The list of reasons for this distrust is lengthy, publicly documented and ever-growing. OBDC is vehemently opposed to this proposed increase and to any and all future budget proposals that would allocate additional resources to a violently racist police force.”
For Media Inquiries:
Ottawa Black Diaspora Coalition
Coalition Against More Surveillance (CAMS)