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Ottawa police dispute Ford government claim that 1,500 police officers were deployed to help


The Ottawa Police Service is disputing the number of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers dispatched to help the city deal with a protest-turned-occupation that's dragged on for more than a week.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones issued a statement on Sunday claiming the province had sent "more than" 1,500 officers from the OPP, other local police forces, and the RCMP to assist Ottawa police in dealing with the "Freedom Convoy" occupation.

On Monday, however, Ottawa police disputed that claim saying the service received "100 Ontario Provincial Police officers to assist with demonstration" rather than the 1,500.

When asked for clarification, a spokesperson for the Solicitor General said the additional policing support was in place "since the beginning of the protest" and "works out to approximately 135-200 officers per day."

"This is in addition to the support being provided by other police services from the Greater Toronto Area and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police," a spokesperson said in a statement.

Former OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis is casting further doubt on the province's figures based on conservations he's had with frontline officers in Ottawa.

"They're saying it's simply nowhere near what the Solicitor General said," Lewis told CTV News Toronto. "It's more like a hundred, maybe two hundred, but certainly no more than that."

Lewis pointed out that 1,500 officers would represent more than a quarter of the entire OPP uniformed workforce, and suggested the police force wouldn't be a position to redeploy such a large number.

"You're not going to send away a quarter of your staff. You're normally sending away people you can free up, that won't detract from the community needs, so its mostly people that are actually on overtime as opposed to people on a shift somewhere," Lewis said.

The inconsistency in numbers triggered a call for the Solicitor General's resignation over what the Ontario Liberals call "political spin and deflection."

“If the province has only provided 100 OPP officers to assist, Sylvia Jones must come clean and explain why she deceived the people of Ottawa and pretended to have their backs," Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said in a statement.

"Without an explanation, the only answer is that she must resign immediately."

The Ford government also said the province is tracking the number of officers deployed in Ottawa in an effort to provide the federal government with the final bill -- a notion that Lewis said had little historical precedent.

"The OPP have never billed a [local police] department for assisting them because it's part of their mandate to assist other police services in the province," Lewis said.

In his time as Commissioner, Lewis said the OPP conducted investigations into allegations in Parliament and assisted in the terrorism investigations but never sent a final bill to the federal government.

"They don't bill for that." Top Stories

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