Councillor asks for options to reform police
Coun. Rawlson King wants city staff to come back by end of June with 3 scenarios
Moments after being officially named council's first-ever liaison on anti-racism, Coun. Rawlson King has asked staff to compile ways to engage the public on reforming the local police service.
At the end of Wednesday's council meeting, King filed a inquiry — seconded by Coun. Shawn Menard — for staff to "present at least three different options, without a recommendation, for a public engagement process on the subject of reforms to the Ottawa Police Service," which could include residents, community organizations and a number of city departments, in addition to police.
The inquiry asked for a response by the end of the month.
There's been a widespread call for rethinking how police operate, and precisely how they are funded, in the wake of mass protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white Minnesota police officer.
Defunding the police can mean many things, from dismantling an entire police force to redirecting at least some public funds that go to police into social services and programs.
Asked after the council meeting whether there were any reforms to the local force that he'd like to see, Mayor Jim Watson said those "areas of responsibility" fall under the Ottawa Police Services Board, of which he is currently a member.
Watson pointed out that council made a unanimous "commitment" to increase the number of local officers by 30 this year.
Hiring those officers has been put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, but he said he's working with police "to determine how we bring those those additional officers online."