Ottawa police want to boost traffic, community units

People in Ottawa generally trust their police force, but are concerned there's more crime than there used to be and want to see more officers in their community, according to a new survey.

More than 3,500 Ottawans did a survey on police performance and priorities

More than 3,500 Ottawa residents filled out a survey on Ottawa police's performance and priorities. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

People in Ottawa generally trust their police force, but are concerned there's more crime than there used to be and want to see more officers on the road and in their community, according to a new survey.

Seventy three per cent of the more than 3,500 people who took part said they believe crime in the city is on the rise, compared to 51 per cent three years ago.

That majorty opinion matches certain key crime statistics, such as Ottawa's violent and reported crime rates increasing in 2017.

The report suggests 64 per cent of people had high or very high trust in the police, up three per cent over the last three years.

However, the percentage of people who said their trust in the force has decreased went from five per cent to ten per cent.

Building trust

The survey results were presented to police board members Wednesday.

It has the force looking at ways to better address community concerns and at making a larger request in upcoming city budgets.

Police chief Charles Bordeleau said the last few years have been a challenge for the force and there is work to do.

"We have had a number of events in our city that have impacted that trust," he said.

"That is why it is even more important that each and every day, every member of the police force is out there building that trust."

New units 

Residents also want to have police focus more on traffic issues and think police can do better to prevent crime.

Deputy chief Steve Bell told board members he hopes to bring new units to both those areas and will be asking for more frontline officers in the budget.

"We know that we have increased by 75 officers over the last three years and our ask for the next three years is 30 officers a year," he said.

He said they hope to set up a new community response unit that would respond directly to community concerns as well as a traffic unit that would be more responsive.

"When there is an issue in Barrhaven or in south Ottawa, we will have resources that can quickly or nimbly respond to those," he said.

In 2017, police shifted many officers from specialized community units to patrol units.   

Police board member Sandy Smallwood said they have heard consistently people want a more visible presence.

"There was a very clear sense in all of the public meetings I went to that the public wants to see the police out in the community," he said.