Investigations began during illegal protest’s ‘early days,’ interim chief says
The Ottawa Police Service has confirmed it’s been investigating a small number of officers who may have supported the so-called Freedom Convoy since the early days of the illegal occupation in the downtown core.
Interim Chief Steve Bell told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning Thursday the force is committed to scrutinizing the matter fully, and the investigations are ongoing.
“Yes, in early days, we started investigations into individuals who may have been involved. Those will continue. I think it’s really important to note that it’s a very, very small number,” Bell said in response to a question about alleged officer donations.
“We need to deal with the people who supported it, because there’s no room for them, but the vast majority of this organization did everything within their power, in an absolutely professional way, to remove that demonstration from our streets.”
From Bell’s wording, it’s unclear whether the investigations pertain only to possible donations, or whether any officers may have had deeper links to the protest.
At least 6 Ottawa officers in publicly leaked list
Last week, CBC News matched at least two dozen current and former members of the Ottawa Police Service and Ontario Provincial Police with a publicly leaked list of names identified as apparent donors to GiveSendGo, a crowdfunding site that was used to support the weeks-long occupation in Ottawa.
The OPP said it had launched an investigation into alleged officer donations to the convoy, but wouldn’t divulge how many officers were under scrutiny. Ottawa police, meanwhile, wouldn’t confirm whether they were investigating.
After comparing the names of donors living in Ontario to publicly accessible salary disclosure lists of police officers, CBC found roughly 60 people with potential connections to law enforcement based on information they provided to GiveSendGo.
CBC then cross-referenced the information with other publicly available sources such as postal codes, social media accounts and archived news stories, and was able to match at least 26 donors to current and former police members — six with Ottawa police and 20 with the OPP.
For some Ottawa police officers, CBC was able to further confirm their names, and at times their donation amounts, with sources within the force. CBC is not naming the officers because they have not been charged nor disciplined, and none agreed to be on the record.
Their apparent contributions ranged from $50 to more than $1,000 each, and often accompanied a comment.