An Ottawa police officer faces misconduct charges following the creation and distribution of a racist meme, Chief Peter Sloly announced in a lengthy open letter Monday, which also addressed criticisms of police after a weekend of unrest south of the border.
Police services across Canada and the United States are grappling with public trust after the death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes. That officer has since been fired and faces murder and manslaughter charges.
“The local and international events of the last two months have shaken me as a police professional and as a person — from the still unfolding impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic, to the tragic events in Minneapolis, to the latest series of internal and public trust issues affecting the Ottawa Police Service,” Sloly’s letter said.
“In these times we need to remain inspired to do our best and help every person and every community in Ottawa,” Sloly said.
Indeed, Ottawa’s top cop acknowledged the particularly turbulent time for the local force, which has been racked with public misconduct allegations against members, from constables all the way up to a deputy chief. The allegations include creating memes of fellow officers; sexual harassment; ties to the criminal underworld; taking money from tow truck operators; and video-taping vulnerable women and mocking them.
“We need to be clear-eyed about the current state of affairs and remain fully committed to leading the organization through this tough and troubling period,” wrote Sloly.
He addressed various conduct allegations against officers, saying there are a number of “active and ongoing Professional Standards Section investigations and legal proceedings into the conduct of our members.”