Coalition calls for external diversity audit of Ottawa police

By Olivia Bowden

The Justice for Abdirahman coalition urged Ottawa police on Monday to allow a third-party audit of the force to examine its diversity and whether race influences hiring and promotions.

The call for an independent investigation comes six months after 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi, a Somali-Canadian, died following an encounter with Ottawa officers that witnesses say amounted to police brutality.

The coalition brought up the possibility of an inquiry at the Ottawa Police Service meeting Monday night. Police Chief Charles Bordeleau said an internal diversity audit was already occurring, but did not discuss a third-party investigation, the CBC reported.

Dahabo Ahmed Omer, a coalition member, told the board members at the meeting that real change can only happen when many accept there is a problem.

The police need to be proactive with a third-party audit, not reactive, said Younis Mohamed, another coalition member, in the CBC report.

Police were called to Hintonburg in July 2016 after hearing reports that a man was allegedly groping a woman. Witnesses told the CBC in July that police used a baton to strike Abdi on his head.

Prior to the board meeting, Bordeleau said racial profiling is an issue that exists in society and in policing, and that a diversity audit is an important tool.