Ottawa police board takes steps toward 2023 budget, hiring deputy chiefs

Ottawa police board staff have been given instructions to shape the 2023 police budget ahead of the draft release next week.

Draft budget will be tabled next week

An Ottawa police sign outside a police station.
Monday's agenda came with a wide array of topics, including whether the service should purchase new stun guns and details around its facilities strategic plan. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

Among the requests approved at Monday's Ottawa Police Services Board meeting are a proposed 2023 police budget increase and help to hire two deputy chiefs.

Board staff were directed to draft a 2023 budget with a 2.5 per cent tax increase in mind and an estimated 2.2 per cent increase to account for population growth.

Last year's budget increased two per cent, smaller than what police were looking for. City council shifted $2.65 million to other parts of its community safety and well-being plan.

The draft budget will be tabled at a special board meeting Feb. 1 followed by a presentation to council. 

Public delegations and a budget vote will be held at the board's regular meeting on Feb. 27, with the council's own vote scheduled for March 1. 

Hiring deputy chiefs 

The board will be hiring head-hunting firm Odgers Berndtson to help hire two deputy chiefs. The approximately $71,750 cost doesn't include HST or out-of-pocket expenses.

That firm helped with the process that ended with Stubbs named as chief in October.

Former deputy chief Uday Jaswal resigned from the service in February 2022

Jaswal was suspended with pay in March 2020 when he was charged with misconduct for allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted touching related to three female Ottawa Police Service (OPS) employees. 

The other position was left empty after the chief administrative officer retired earlier this month and Steve Bell moved into that role. Acting deputies will fill the spots in the meantime.

One of the deputy chief positions would lead community police and the other would lead intelligence, information and investigation. 

Four people, three in police uniforms, sit at a meeting table.
Jaswal, second from left, and Bell to his right in a 2019 file photo. Both were recently deputy Ottawa police chiefs. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

New stun guns for $1.4M

The board also approved up to $1.4 million for 275 more stun guns and 8,000 cartridges.   

Over the last couple decades, these weapons have been seen as increasingly controversial, with cases like the high-profile death of Robert Dziekanski in 2007 thrusting them further into the limelight and under scrutiny.

Delegates at the meeting spoke out in opposition to the board approving the purchase, as well as against numerous other topics on the agenda.

In 2022, the police service reviewed its deployment model and took 210 stun guns out of service, according to the report. That review had the goal of maintaining the "optimal amount" at the "lowest cost." 

It also states that 240 units reached the end of their five-year lifespan in the final quarter of 2022, with more set to expire in the next two years.

At the meeting, Stubbs said the recommendations were necessary to maintain OPS's program for now, but said an upcoming review will take place later in 2023. 

Bell said the service's upcoming review would have an eye on reducing the number of stun guns in its inventory. 

Update to facilities strategic plan 

The board also voted to refresh its facilities strategic plan.

"[This plan] allocates where we're going to invest our money around facilities for the next 15 years," Bell said Monday night. 

The whole plan costs $219 million, with $178 million of that going toward a new station in Barrhaven. 

About $126 million of that Barrhaven money will come through debt, $46 million will come from development charges, and $6 million from "pay as you go" funding provided by the service's reserve fund. 

Part of the purpose of building the new facility would be to replace the Greenbank and Leitrim facilities.