Ottawa Police Service survey asks for feedback, community group weighs in

Poster from CAMS Ottawa's Instagram page
Poster from CAMS Ottawa instagram page.
Jhamesha Milord Ashford - CHUO - OttawaON | 13-01-2021

This month, the Ottawa Police Service is looking to the community for feedback on how the force can improve. The "Competency Framework Survey" aims to update the organization's work performance and HR processes.

"In the last half of 2020, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) invested in a refresh of our organizational Competencies which were last updated in 2007 and are woven into each of our work performance and HR processes. Please take few minutes to give us your feedback and your valued perspective based on your expertise within your professional experiences," OPS stated on the survey.

"At the conclusion of this project, we hope to see an organization-wide competency framework that is consistent, honors equity, diversity, and inclusion, and is relevant to the needs of the community and all OPS members," OPS stated.

There are six questions. Some of the survey questions include "If you could see one thing dramatically change within OPS that would drive the desired behaviors, what would that be?" and "In your view, what is the greatest challenge the OPS is facing right now in supporting the desired performance?"

All answers remain anonymous — OPS is not collecting identifying personal information or IP addresses. The deadline to complete it is Jan. 15.

The Coalition Against More Surveillance Ottawa (CAMS) has been pushing everyone to fill out the survey in order to let OPS know what change the community needs. Farnaz Farhang, a member of the coalition, spoke to CHUO on the team's behalf.

Back in 2019, CAMS formed when a group of community members, researchers, artists and others came together to protest invasive surveillance practices. Specifically, CAMS was originally made to respond to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson's proposal to implement closed-circuit television (CCTVs) in the Byward Market.

"We know that, because of evidence, and just research that comes out of the places that have it, that it's (CCTVs) not a tool for community safety and it doesn't actually prevent harms from happening," said Farhang.

The group is now fighting against any form of surveillance, whether it be by police or outreach groups that do work in the name of community care, while working to challenge and hold all forms of systemic oppression accountable.

With the help of this survey, Farhang and her colleagues are hoping that the force will be making radical changes.

"'Defund the police' but what does that mean for them? For us, it's understanding that police, it's not just about moving money from their budget to somewhere else, but reimagining what community safety really gonna look like," said Farhang.

For CAMS, it's about removing police structures and having measures in place where decisions are community led.

"The more people know about the systems and the people they are up against, I think it's the best and easier way that we can kind of make them obsolete," Farhang said.

The coalition is now focused on getting ready for the next OPS board meeting which is Jan. 25, and informing members of the community about the ins-and-outs of what OPS is doing in the city, along with other programs and non-profit organizations.

For those who want to speak as a delegate at the OPS board meeting, but may not be sure what to say, CAMS has created a guideline document for the meeting which is available on the CAMS Instagram page.

Here is CHUO's interview with CAMS team member, Farnaz Farhang:

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