Ottawa police received 400 complaints about officers during 'Freedom Convoy' protest

Published June 25, 2023 2:48 p.m. ET

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An Ottawa Police vehicle blocks off Kent Street in front of parked trucks during the "Freedom Convoy" protest in Ottawa on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ottawa police received more than 400 complaints from the public about officers' conduct during the February 2022 'Freedom Convoy' demonstration in downtown Ottawa, with a majority of the complaints either screened out or consolidated.

A report for the Ottawa Police Services Board shows the Office of the Independent Review Director received 866 public complaints in 2022, up from 350 in 2021.

Of the 866 complaints, 410 were linked to the 'Freedom Convoy' protest that blocked Wellington Street and other roads in the Parliamentary Precinct for more than three weeks.

"The illegal protest is responsible for a sharp increase in the number of public complaints directed at the OPS that was received by the OIPRD in 2022," staff say.

Of the 410 complaints attributed to the protest, 390 of the public complaints to Ottawa police were either "screened out or consolidated" by the Office of the Independent Review Director, the report says.

"A review of the screen-outs of 199 illegal protest-related complaints was attributed to the complainants not being directly affected by the incident or interaction with police," staff say, adding 70 illegal protest-related service complaints were consolidated into two, "based on similar themes."

The report for Monday's board meeting does not provide any details on the public complaints during the 'Freedom Convoy' protest. Ottawa police came under fire from the public and some politicians for allowing the group protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other public health measures to occupy streets in January-February 2022.

The report says 70 complaints still pending at the end of 2022 were related to the 'Freedom Convoy' protest, and were consolidated into two complaints by the Office of the Independent Review Director.  A report is expected to be presented to the Ottawa Police Services Board at a later date.

Driving-related complaints

The report shows there were 380 internal complaints filed about officers in 2022, with 350 of those related to driving-related conduct.

"The increase in internal complaints is attributed to increases in driving-related conduct, specifically the growth and deployment of Automated Speed Enforcement Cameras (ASE’s) and Red-Light Cameras across the city," staff said.

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