Increasing Ottawa shootings linked to drug trade test police, city
Police deploy more resources while city meets with community partners to discuss issue
Police and the city are trying to step up their efforts to deal with an increasing number of brazen residential shootings directly linked to Ottawa's criminal drug trade.
Charges have been laid in 15 to 17 of the shooting cases, police said at a news conference Thursday.
"What's really impacting [the number of shootings this year] … is the drug trade and the fighting for distribution networks, and so that's why we're seeing these shootings. There's a direct link to the drug trade," said police Chief Charles Bordeleau.
"The drug trade is very much active in our community, and our street gangs are very much involved, and there's a dispute over trying to control different areas within our community."
To deal with the increase, police have boosted resources in the guns and gangs and drug units, which are also working side by side. The direct action response team, or DART unit, is keeping an eye on people who have been previously charged to make sure they're abiding by release conditions.
Wednesday's shooting, for example, happened just moments after a police cruiser turned off the street and onto another.
"Visibility helps to a certain extent. Does it prevent it? No. Studies have shown that just random patrols or visibility doesn't solve everything," Bordeleau said.
"It's a component, and it'll certainly go a long way to showing the community that we are there, visible.… Our presence is important."
'Any type of monitoring can be possible,' OCH CEO says
Stéphane Giguère, CEO of Ottawa Community Housing, said on Thursday that it's looking at "more visits and more presence" from its own neighbourhood patrols in the area.
"We have a protocol, when we have incidents, where we are increasing the presence.… And if they [residents] feel or have the perception that we're not present enough, we always encourage them to make the call to our call centre to make sure that, again, we can deploy someone," Giguere said.
For years, some residents have been asking for security cameras in the Michele Heights and Ritchie Street areas to deter crime. Giguere said the organization continues to think about it.
"Any type of monitoring can be possible, and that's a solution that we are reviewing and we are looking at, and we will get back to our tenants with the best solution that will be adapted to their needs, in concert with Ottawa Police Services and the recommendations from the agencies as well," he said.
Meeting scheduled for Tuesday
"What tools does the landlord have? What tools do the police have? What tools do the community developers have who are active in the neighbourhood and how can we work together in concert to take action?" said Taylor.
At Thursday's news conference, Taylor said the shootings aren't just a police problem, they're a community problem.
"With the resources that are on the streets now, and the community partners that we will be pulling together in the coming days, we're confident that we can really address both … the patrol and the investigative part … and some of the root causes of some of these issues," he said.