Ottawa police officers expected to cover more ground

Each Ottawa police officer is expected to account for 477 people in Ottawa, according to the force's 2013 budget, which is higher than six other major Canadian cities.

Low severity of violent crimes, or fewer homicides, means more responsibility for each officer

Ottawa has less violent crime than 2 years ago, but police solving lower rate of homicide cases. 3:18

The number of Ottawa police officers compared to the city's total population leaves each officer covering a higher number of residents than their colleagues in six other Canadian cities, according to the 2013 police budget.

Number of residents per police officer (2012)
Ottawa 477
Calgary 436
Edmonton 378
Vancouver 376
Winnipeg 374
Montreal 328
Toronto 317
Courtesy: Ottawa Police Service 2013 Draft Budget

Each officer is responsible for 477 residents in Ottawa while the closest ratio in other major cities is in Calgary, where each officer is responsible for 436 residents.

The topic was raised at Monday night's police services board meeting where the 2013 police budget was officially approved. The budget increase was limited to 2.5 per cent as per the promise of Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

Other news from the meeting included a report on gangs and violent crime rates.

One of the reasons for the high number of residents per officer, police board members said, was the low number of severe violent crimes, including homicides.

The city's violent crime severity index — a statistic that rates cities based on the severity of violent crimes — is among the lowest in Canada, the budget also said.

Violent crime, homicides down

Violent crime has decreased from 644 crimes per 100,000 people in 2009 to 566 per 100,000 last year, police revealed. That number is better than the provincial average of 908 crimes per a population of 100,000.

Homicide statistics were also released Monday, showing total homicides decreased from 12 in 2010 to just five so far in 2012.

The concerning statistic for Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau is the clearance rate for violent crimes, or the ratio of solved violent crimes.

At the meeting, Bordeleau asked for a review of the low clearance rate for violence crimes, 62 per cent, which is near the bottom among cities across Ontario.

A report was also released Monday evening that included recommendations on dealing with an increasing problem of gang violence in the city, which came from a gang symposium in October.

Those recommendations included a focus on youth, families and behaviour perceived as leading people to join gangs.