Lauren Roulston – OTTAWA • ON | 25-03-2021
Police Chief Peter Sloly has announced the decision to pause the use of dynamic entries that are conducted by Ottawa Police Service (OPS) solely for the purpose of preserving evidence.
He made the announcement during the OPS board meeting on Monday afternoon, a decision that comes after public scrutiny and lengthy discussions on the safety of the practice, also known as a “no-knock raid.”
Dynamic entries see police suited in full combat gear, often equipped with battering rams, flashbangs or stun grenades. They are mainly used in situations where there is a risk of evidence being destroyed or when a person is subjecting themselves or others to harm.
The practice faced controversy following the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in Kentucky last March which resulted in several U.S. states banning the no-knock raids.
This tactic has gone wrong in Canada as well, as 23-year-old Anthony Aust died after falling from a 12th-storey bedroom window after a dynamic entry into his home in Ottawa in October 2020.
Many community activists have advocated against the use of dynamic raids in the city.
Sam Hersh, a public delegate of the board meeting and member of Horizon Ottawa, says the dynamic entry suspension is a result of community efforts rather than the OPS board.
“This is because the community came together to oppose dynamic entries,” he says.
Hersh also says he is “cautiously optimistic” about the announcement, but doesn’t have any faith in police discretion while carrying out the suspension.
“What we want to see is a complete end to dynamic entries. No case warrants a military-style assault on someone’s home, especially when in most cases it has been proven to be totally unnecessary,” he adds.
Acting Deputy Chief Mark Ford estimates 75 to 80 per cent of dynamic entries to be justified on the basis of preserving disposable evidence.
The OPS has conducted a year-long review of the tactic and is in the final stages of recommendations to be formalized and implemented.
“This pause will remain in effect while we go through implementing the overall review recommendations in our policies, procedures and practices,” said Sloly.
“That said, there will always be circumstances where there is a need for dynamic entries to prevent the harm to persons. That is why the Ottawa police service will continue to appropriately use dynamic entries in all other circumstances where the purpose is not solely for the purpose of preserving evidence.”
Sloly noted to the board that the number of dynamic entries used by the OPS over the last three years has decreased from 82 in 2018 to 59 in 2020.
“That trend will continue in 2021 and beyond as a result of the review recommendations being fully implemented,” he says.
Here is Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly announcing the dynamic entry suspension at Monday’s OPS board meeting: