| After more than a decade serving our downtown residents at the corner of Somerset and Bank, the Centretown Community Police Centre has moved into city hall. A decision that was made after floods, rent cost, and operational needs forced the Ottawa Police Service to place its downtown community office into the second floor of 110 Laurier Ave. West.
Const. Khoa N. Hoang
If real estate is all about location, than I suppose my new office is no exception. But working at city hall requires adapting to the challenges of being outside of a residential neighbourhood such as Centretown. After all, some would argue that we are no longer accessible to the community and therefore lost our original business model of community policing. Others, however, would argue that being surrounded by service providers and municipal politicians keeps us in the loop to be a more effective CPC.
The Centretown Community Police Centre serves the central-west district neighbourhoods of the Golden Triangle, Old Ottawa East, Centretown, Glebe, and Old Ottawa South. It had been at the corner of Somerset and Bank since the late 1990s.
A lot of things have changed since then. Growing up along Bank Street in the ‘80s and ‘90s meant that I was exposed to a number of things that no longer exist. Bank Street used to be the main street in Ottawa; the place where everyone and anyone would go for just about everything.
There were even a number of hotels that lined the street, including a large population of restaurants and bars – much more than there are now. Several major banks have closed their doors and I have fond memories of hanging out within the many arcades that were popular before home gaming systems took off.
The original Somerset CPC was actually located inside the Dalhousie Community Centre within our Chinatown neighbourhood during the early ‘90s, which helped to address the street crime problems at that time.
Eventually, problems along Bank Street caused concerns in the late ‘90s with a noticeable increase in prostitution, drugs, and gang activity. The corner of Bank and Somerset became a haven for criminal activity and the decision to move the Community Police Centre to that corner was approved.
Officers began building partnerships and earning the trust of local residents. Several police projects were initiated to address the concerns. Eventually, we were able to get enough of a handle on the street crime that police could refocus their attention on education and relationship building, which is extremely important but often difficult with immediate crime concerns continuously emerging.
Today, the corner of Bank and Somerset is much better off than it once was. Bank Street Promenade is a bustling business hub and a main vehicle route into our downtown core. Crime rates are significantly lower today than they were in the ‘90s and the community has a greater appreciation for policing.
My role at the new location hasn’t changed and neither has any of our contact information, which remains the same. But the work load has increased significantly with the addition of direct neighbours such as community service providers, the councillors’ office, mayor’s office, media outlets, and the Police Services Board, to name a few. There is an opportunity now to establish stronger relationships with many of our partners while still serving the residents that remain at the very top of my priority list.
I hope that you’ll take the time to drop by next time you’re at city hall.