A new report by Ottawa Police chief Steve Bell reveals that the force dismissed most of the complaints it received during its handling of the Freedom Convoy protest. 

The document titled “Complaints Report – Part V, Police Services Act” will be presented before the Ottawa Police Services Board on Apr. 25. 

According to the report, public complaints concerning the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) shot up by 324% in the first quarter of the year compared to 2021. Of the 327 complaints received, 84% were related to the Freedom Convoy protest in the city’s downtown. 

In total, the force received 266 improper conduct complaints, 56 excessive force complaints and 24 complaints pertaining to a neglect of duty. 

Of these, only 3% were forwarded to investigation by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) which oversees complaints and disciplinary proceedings. 

“Of these 275 Public Complaints directly attributed to the illegal protest, 263 (95 percent) were screened out by the OIPRD. By complaint type, 232 Conduct related complaints resulted in 226 (97 percent) being screened out, and six (3%) being referred to the OPS for investigation,” wrote the OPS. 

253 complaints were dismissed on the grounds that they were “frivolous, vexatious, over six months after the facts on which it was based occurred” or “deemed to be not in (the) public interest.” Another 24 were “unsubstantiated or resulted in no further action.” 

Compared to 2021, when 8 complaints resulted in the discipline of officers, this year only 3 officers were disciplined. 

According to the report, 58 investigations into complaints are ongoing. 

In February, a joint force of federal, provincial and municipal police joined the OPS to crack down on peaceful convoy demonstrations against COVID-19 measures after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time in Canadian history. 

The crackdown saw militarized police employing riot horses, gas canisters, pepper spray and heavy weaponry. 

The Trudeau government’s decision is currently being investigated by a special committee in the House of Commons. Recently, the Special Investigations Unit deemed that an injury that occurred after a woman was trampled by a Toronto Police Service officer on horseback was too minor to investigate and dropped the matter entirely.