Ottawa police have delayed the release of a report about their conduct during an investigation into an Ottawa man’s alleged failure to disclose his HIV status before having unprotected sex.
The report — which contains recommendations from an operational debrief — was not released at a monthly meeting of the Police Liaison Committee to the queer community on July 19 as inspector Joan McKenna had previously announced.
On May 6, Ottawa police issued a press release that identified a man — by name and photo — as a sexual predator.
In the aftermath, police put together a debriefing committee to review steps taken by the police prior to the issuing of the press release. The committee consisted of members of the Police Liaison Committee, public health, the crown attorney, the sexual assault unit, the investigation units and everyone who was involved in putting together the media release, including staff in the media and legal branches.
Brent Bauer, of the Gay Men’s Wellness Initiative — as well as other community members — expressed dismay at the police’s delay.
“And I am not hearing that you, as a co-chair, have a sound grasp of your agenda,” says Bauer.
Sergeant Monica Christian said the report was not available because McKenna was not at work. Christian promised to hold an emergency meeting of the Police Liaison Committee on July 22 to release the report, unless there was an additional internal reason for the delay.
The release has added urgency because the Ottawa Police Services Board, a seven-member civilian oversight board, meets on July 26. They are slated to discuss the police’s handling of the case.
Without an extra meeting, the debrief will not be released until mid-September.
The Police Liaison Committee’s other co-chair, Marion Steele, expressed her frustration with the situation. In her opening remarks, she said queers on the committee should start meeting without the police.
“I want to see a lot more action on the committee, a whole lot more noise. We are here for a reason. The police didn’t come to us 20 years ago,” said Steele. “We had to fight to be here, and I don’t want to feel any longer that we are like puppets on somebody’s string and finding out about things after the fact.”
“I would like to see put into action a queer caucus of this committee — I would like us to meet on a more regular basis as our community so that when we step up to this liaison committee we are one strong, united front,” says Steele.