Police in Ottawa conducted a two-day crackdown on disorderly behaviour in Byward Market, Lowertown, Sandy Hill, Vanier and Centretown June 3 and 4.
Project Rowdy saw 500 charges laid in relation to public intoxication, open alcohol, dangerous driving, panhandling, unsafe cycling, noise violations, underage drinking and overcrowding of licensed establishments.
Jeff LeBlanc of the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) Central East District was the officer in charge of the operation.
“We’re looking at setting a standard of behaviour,” he says. “We don’t want a family confronted by a bunch of students with open alcohol who are hooting and hollering.”
More than 30 OPS officers teamed with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and Ottawa By-Law and OC Transpo special constables to conduct the blitz, which started at noon both days and continued until the streets were clear after the bars closed.
According to LeBlanc, charges were laid through the enforcement of municipal by-laws, provincial statutes and Criminal Code offences.
“Our daytime enforcement was mostly traffic related, and our evening enforcement was more of the alcohol-related charges,” says LeBlanc.
Cyclists were tripped up by the Traffic Act, while panhandlers were targeted using the Safe Streets Act.
“Our goal is not necessarily to go and arrest everybody,” says LeBlanc. “It’s basically to let them know they are doing something wrong, and one of the best ways is to impose a penalty of some sorts. In this case it was mostly provincial offence notices and by-law tickets.”
OPS also inspected about 20 bars with the AGCO for overcrowding, serving under-aged drinkers and over-serving.
“If we go into a bar and we see that everyone is falling down drunk, then that’s a problem,” says LeBlanc.
LeBlanc says a few bars were fined and one will require a follow-up by the AGCO. That could result in its liquor licence being removed.
LeBlanc says that blitzes like this are normally carried out at least once or twice a year, but he admits that the project will not eliminate all summer rowdiness.
“It’s a one-weekend campaign, so we don’t expect that it’s going to set the standard for the entire summer, but basically we want everyone to behave to a reasonable level when they are out and about downtown, and if that happens, the families, the students — everyone will get along,” says LeBlanc.
Although most of the fines issued over the weekend were related to provincial and municipal by-laws, there were a number of criminal charges laid in relation to drug possession and people breaching conditions of interim release or probation.