OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis' internal message to the members of The Ontario Provincial Police.
Idle No More: OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis' internal message to the members of the Ontario Provincial Police
Commissioner Lewis, January 15, 2013
Hello. Through this video message, I want to take this opportunity to speak to all of our members, uniform and civilian, about the important and difficult work we are doing to police the various protests that fall under the banner of "Idle No More."
There has been much criticism recently in the media directed towards the Ontario Provincial Police and our supposed lack of enforcement response to these events. I have been quick to respond publicly that the OPP will continue to manage these protests in a safe and peaceful manner using the best practices established in the OPP Framework for Police Preparedness for Aboriginal Critical Incidents and the proper use of police discretion.
These concepts and strategies, developed from experience, hard work and common sense, are difficult and complex to explain to the general public.
I understand that.
Regardless, some journalists and commentators have taken the time to listen and have supported the OPP approach.
I will continue to explain and defend our response in all appropriate ways.
As I have stated on many occasions, these types of protests are difficult for police services to manage.
The overall objective of the OPP is to work with all parties to ensure public and officer safety and to maintain orderly conduct and peace.
That isn't us "not doing our job" as some would have it, but in fact that is our job.
Members of our Provincial Liaison Team and other officers have done excellent work negotiating with event organizers to minimize disruption and danger.
Our Provincial Operations Intelligence Bureau is keeping us well-informed so we can plan and deploy resources accordingly.
There may be situations requiring our immediate enforcement action and we will at times do so, but otherwise we will continue to investigate these incidents and will lay charges, after the event, where appropriate.
It is a strong tribute to the professionalism of the men and women of the OPP that, after over 60 individual protest events in OPP jurisdictions, there has not been a single report of an injury to a protestor, a member of the public or an officer.
As always, public safety is our paramount concern.
Whether we like it or not, the First Nations people of Ontario have long-time disputes with government and we cannot solve those issues as a police service.
As well, First Nations have the ability to paralyze this country by shutting down travel and trade routes.
It is a difficult situation no matter how we view or address it.
When policing these events, we will be criticized -- sometimes from all sides. Our response at all times needs to be measured, professional and sensitive.
I'd rather be criticized for a decision to not jeopardize, take or lose lives, than for taking unnecessary aggressive action that undoubtedly will.
I am extremely proud of the professionalism all of our members have shown in difficult circumstances. You have responded well, following the Framework to defuse tense situations and manage the inevitable disruption.
You have followed your training and values despite the criticism of various pundits and commentators with their own agendas.
When the critical incident is over, it is the OPP, not our critics, that is responsible for the results.
Thank you for your ongoing efforts in representing the OPP as an open, professional police service that is committed to the safety and security of all people in Ontario.
Keep up the good work.
Published on Jan 15, 2013