I am so, so tempted to tear this article apart and show it for what it is with all its contradictions, half-truths and downright lies, but unlike my compatriots at The Ottawa Stun, I trust that my readers can separate the wheat from the chaff. As a public service, however, I have affixed the appropriate warning labels and highlighted potentially offensive content. Parental discretion is advised.
Some Ottawa cops say an anti-police sentiment is growing among staff at Shepherds of Good Hope.
“We’ll get called to go down and take care of a problem or stop a fight and they’ll ask us not to charge anyone,” said the officer. “They expect an emergency response officer to sit around and babysit someone and be their bodyguards rather than lay charges.”
When told about the accusation, Chief Vern White said it sounded like the officer felt as though cops were being treated like “bouncers” and promised to look into the situation. What White discovered is calls to Shepherds, as well as those in northwest Lowertown, are down by 24% this year.
There have been 90 calls for service to Sheps since Jan. 1 — 28 less than during the same period in 2010. Calls in northwest Lowertown are down to 2,300 from 2,550.
But it’s the nature — not the number of the calls, which is concerning the police source.
The officer said cops get called “for ridiculous reasons” or because staff are “too scared” to deal with clients.
“Over the past two years there’s been a real shift,” said the officer. “It used to be they’d hire people who wanted to be police. (As the first paid supervisor for The Shepherds of Good Hope, I can pretty much guarantee the majority of people didn’t get into this field to be custodial officers. There are Jails and Prisons for that.) Now they hire people who want to be social workers. Homeless people tell me they’re terrified to stay at Sheps — it’s not safe.”
Most of the violence, however, appears to originate with the men in in blue.
The officer said the anti-police perception comes from cops who’ve been called to the Murray St. shelter by Shepherds staff.
“They’ll call us to deal with a situation and then stand outside and watch us. We ask what they’re doing and they say — witnessing. They come out just to witness against us. It’s almost a culture of anti-police there.”
One is tempted to wonder exactly how that officer would react if a social worker actually took part in an attempted arrest or restrainment. I’m guessing there would be at least two people spending the night at the Elgin Street Jailhouse, one of whom whould probably lose his job.
Shepherds executive director Paul Soucie said he was surprised by the comments.
“It’s news to me. I would describe our relationship with police as stellar,” he said. “We meet with them on a regular basis, and I think that we provide an excellent service to the city.”
The accusations worry councillor Mathieu Fleury.
“That’s exactly my concern,” he said, implying absolutely nothing.
Fleury said he believes staff at Shepherds are “doing the best they can” but are simply overwhelmed. He also said he’s heard rumblings of an anti-police perception.
“That’s what I hear,” he said. Although he never said from whom.
White said he’s willing to meet with Soucie to discuss the allegations.
“I can’t really speak to any attitude issue between them and us,” he said.