All Tea No Shade Listening CircleBlack youth give their perspectives with Ottawa Police during roundtable

by Joy Keke

Group pic of participants Photo credit: Jaku Konbit

Saturday 11 May 2024

A report released by the Ottawa Police Services (OPS) in 2022 found that Black residents make up eight percent of Ottawa’s population but were involved in 25 percent of police use-of-force incidents, the report says, or 3.1 times their share of Ottawa’s population (CTV News Ottawa). All Tea No Shade, a round table hosted by Jaku Konbit, addressed this issue on Saturday, May 11th, 2024 for Ottawa’s black youth to share experiences with OPS and offer solutions to make interactions positive with members. This event was a part of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, to recognize that people of African descent represent a distinct group whose human rights must be promoted and protected.

A Black youth share her views on the community’s relationship with police

Some 30 young people aged 15-25 were in attendance to engage in a face-to-face conversation with police officers and share their concerns about negative interactions with police and racial profiling; situations that resulting in people of colour being over-represented in the criminal justice system. A student from Brookfield High School, spoke on her experience growing up and going to a school that is heavily policed, and how it has made her to feel unsafe in the neighbourhood and why the police feel a need to over police certain areas of the city.

Two of the youthful participants Photo credit: Jaku Konbit

Other youth spoke about negative interactions with the police, such as unwarranted traffic stops, racial profiling, questionable arrests and harassment of innocent Black individuals; situations that lead to disproportionate representation of people of colour in the criminal justice system.

Police officer Chanbine Tucker contributes to the discussion

Ottawa Police officer Sergeant Chanbine Tucker spoke on his experience as a Black man working in police at the event. “I’ve had both negative and positive experiences with the police growing up, but it is mainly because of the positive experiences and interactions with the officers that I have seen and experienced in my life that made me want to be a part of that culture”, Sergeant Tucker said. “I wanted to be part of the change, I wanted to be part of something positive. Part of why I became a police officer is because I wanted to become a positive influence in my community and policing.”

Jaku Konbit President Ken Campbell welcomes participants Photo credit: Jaku Konbit

During Sergeant Tucker’s time with OPS, he emphasized the importance of listening to the community, building relationships and interacting with them through events such as the one hosted by Jaku Konbit on this day.

“More work needs to be done when analyzing data on areas that are racialized that are overpoliced,” Sergeant Tucker said.

He suggested that a way that the OPS can address this problem is to hire a senior data analyst under the Equity and Inclusion branch of the Ottawa Police Service. They would be responsible for tracking racial demographics in different areas of the city , and help prevent the overrepresentation of black people in the criminal justice system.

Jaku Konbit staffer Gelila Geremew, centre, chats with police officer Photo credit: Jaku Konbit

He added that another strategy would be significant updates to Bill 68, the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019 (CSPA), which came into effect on April 1st, 2024.

These changes focus on enhancing community safety, oversight, and training standards. Key updates include revisions to the public complaints process, the introduction of the Inspector General of Policing role, definitions for Adequate and Effective Policing, and Codes of Conduct for officers. The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) is preparing for these changes, including a phased implementation plan, and welcomes improvements such as the ability to suspend officers without pay in cases of serious misconduct under the CSPA. Additionally, a new Law Enforcement Complaints Agency (LECA) will oversee public complaints about police conduct, emphasizing transparency and accountability. OPS is ensuring compliance with the CSPA and understanding its impact on operations.

One of the youth shares her views Photo credit: Jaku Konbit

Two Carleton University students gave their perspectives as the event concluded.

1st Carleton Student: “I think that this event was cool, the Carleton student said, It was a way of helping to humanize the face behind the badge.”

2nd Carleton Student: “I think this event was really interesting and a great way to learn about the police force and how they are operating in Ottawa and I think that these are very important conversations to have in our community,

Another student said: “However I wish these documents with all these plans were more accessible to the public and were more widely discussed, so that we as a community can better keep track of the progress being made in our community and help hold the police force accountable on these changes being made.”

The efforts of the police to engage with Black communities represent a significant step toward addressing historical grievances and fostering trust. However, the journey toward meaningful systemic change is ongoing and requires sustained commitment, collaboration, and accountability from all stakeholders.

About Jaku Konbit

Jaku Konbit is a non-profit organization that supports individuals and families of African and Caribbean descent, as well as other equity-deserving individuals, through community partnerships and quality programs in Ottawa.


Joy Keke

Joy Keke is a second-year student at Carleton University completing her Bachelor’s in journalism and law. She has a lot of experience writing, from being a school news reporter of Raven’s Call to being head blogger of the Youth Tutoring project. She also co-hosts The Criminal Columnists podcast, educating listeners on true crime cases and their relation to criminal law. Her future goals are to use her background in journalism and law to create a positive impact in her community.