CORNWALL, Ontario – At a meeting of the Cornwall Police Services Board on Thursday, March 3, Cornwall Police Service (CPS) Chief Shawna Spowart outlined how members of her service supported the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) as they dealt with the weeks long anti-mandate protests around Parliament Hill in the nation’s capital.
There were 22 CPS officers who volunteered to serve in support of the OPS operations in downtown Ottawa as they attempted to maintain order and eventually cleared protesters from the downtown of their city.
“On Feb. 3, while watching a press conference by (OPS) Chief Sloly, I couldn’t help but feel for them as it was obvious that the Ottawa police service could not continue to adequately and effectively deal with this siutation without the assistance of others,” said Chief Spowart. “I understood that what the CPS had to offer was not sufficient to have a significant impact on the overall outcome of the occupation. However, I felt that given our close proximity to Ottawa, that we could provide some level of assistance, that would at the very least, allow some of their members to get some relief from what appeared would be a long and arduous conflict.”
Chief Spowart said that after putting out a call for volunteers, officers quickly stepped forward.
“I think they saw these law enforcement partners in need and they saw themselves in them,” Spowart told Seaway News.
CPS officers prticipated in community patrols and securing intersections during the course of the protest. From Monday Feb. 7, to Sunday, Feb. 13, the 22 CPS officers who volunteered to participate covered 30 different 10 and 12 hour shifts, day and night, in support of the OPS for a total of 460 hours of work.
The CPS has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the OPS that the latter service will cover the costs incurred by having these Cornwall officers deployed to Ottawa.
The CPS also dealt with related anti-mandate protests closer to home, as farm tractors and pick-up trucks slowed traffic on the Seaway International Bridge on Saturday, Feb. 12.
While that protest ended the same day CPS in partnership with other local law enforcement agencies maintainted a continued visible presence in the area of the bridge in the weeks following that protest.
“This presence stems from a need to protect the ciritical infrastructure that connects Akwesasne and Cornwall, providing vital access to healthcare services, places of employment and other goods and services,” said Spowart.
Spowart stated that CPS has to date spent 600 hours on ensuring security at the Cornwall Port of Entry.