Police Chief Charles Bordeleau told the Ottawa Police Services Board he would provide them a report on a police audit of all gloves used by officers, but said an ongoing criminal case may limit what he can say about the results.
Bordeleau, giving his verbal report at the board's Monday meeting, spoke in greater detail about the audit, which he ordered earlier this month.
The audit came the week after Const. Daniel Montsion was charged criminally in the 2016 death of Abdirahman Abdi, and after a CBC News investigation found the reinforced gloves worn by Montsion are being considered a weapon by Ontario's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit.
Bordeleau has previously refused to comment on the issue, citing the SIU investigation and the fact that Montsion's criminal case is now before the courts.
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But in his verbal report, he acknowledged "there has been a great deal of discussion about the type of equipment, specifically gloves, used by officers."
"We take this very seriously," he said.
Report to board must be 'mindful' of court case
Bordeleau said under Section 11 of the Police Services Act, an investigation focusing on policies and conduct is required when the SIU invokes its mandate.
"It's in everyone's interest that the Section 11 proactively look at the use of equipment, namely gloves. Included in the Section 11 will be a confirmation of current inventory, a review of approval processes, compliance with policy and the rationale for purchase."
Bordeleau said if the internal audit identifies any problems, the force will move to make changes.
But he said when he reports back to the board, he'll be required to "be mindful on how that reporting could impact the court process underway."
"This may limit what I can share while a court process is underway," he said.
Audit request in March
On March 13, at Bordeleau's request, Ottawa police CFO Jeff Letourneau instructed inspectors to fill out a spreadsheet documenting the following information about all force-issued gloves:
- The brand and model.
- Rationale for use.
- Which units/officers have them.
- Who approved their purchase and use.
- Who purchased the gloves.
- Whether the gloves have hard knuckle protection or not.
A follow-up email sent by another person specified information about any gloves officers purchased on their own, without the approval of their section supervisor, should not be included in the list.
The deadline for inspectors to submit the information was March 22.
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Prior to the audit, the Ottawa police quartermaster — responsible for outfitting officers with clothing and gear — had eight types of gloves on file. Two of them are reinforced with hardened knuckle plating and are issued to members of the motorcycle unit for summer and winter crash protection, according to a spreadsheet obtained by CBC. They're made by the motorcycle apparel company Rev'It!
The Oakley Standard Issue assault gloves sources say were worn by Montsion in the confrontation with Abdi were not on the quartermaster's list.
Minister wants copy of glove audit
Earlier this week, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Marie-France Lalonde said she wants a copy of the Ottawa police glove audit and urged other police forces in the province to conduct their own audits.
"I think all police services in Ontario should consider undertaking an equipment audit to ensure the 'use of force' guidelines continue to reflect the realities of front-line policing in the province," Lalonde said in a statement.
Bordeleau said last week he wasn't contacted by Lalonde or the ministry about the request.
He said Monday the ministry has access to the same report they prepare for the police services board.
"We understand that there is a broader provincial issue that needs to be looked at," Bordeleau said.
"I'm collaborating with fellow chiefs across the province and we understand that the ministry has an interest in that ... we will support the ministry in any way that we can in order for them to be informed and also make any broader policy discussions they may have."