Residents from Pickering to Clarington asked what they want in a new Police Chief

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Published November 25, 2021 at 1:03 pm

The search for a permanent Durham police chief continues after the last chief, Paul Martin, retired amid a major ethics investigation.

The process of selecting a new Durham Region police chief to oversee Durham Region has entered its next phase with an Environics survey to find what Durham residents feel are essential for the new Chief.

The survey is conducted by Environics Research, an organization that weighs and measures the social values of a given population on a variety of issues, on behalf of the Durham Police Services Board, the civilian body that oversees DRPS.

The survey asks many questions including what major issues residents think DRPS is currently facing, and reactions to police response times, handling of mental health calls, use of force and other major concerns.

The process of hiring a new Chief began over a year ago in September 2020, when the previous Chief, Paul Martin, retired amid allegations of mass misconduct and corruption across the service.

Martin, a 20 year veteran of the force, was appointed Chief in 2014. Allegations of bullying and intimidation from the top of DRPS chain of command arose in Fall 2018 from members with “significant seniority,” according to the CBC, and dogged the later years of Martin’s term.

An administrator was hired by Spring 2019 to take on some of the duties usually prescribed to chiefs, as the number of allegations continued to rise.

During this period, Martin asserted his primary goals were a “change agenda” focused on respect throughout the force and that he welcomed an investigation into what he called “historic” misconduct.

It was also during this time Toronto Constable Michael Theriault assaulted Dafonte Miller in Whitby while off-duty, inflicting a broken jaw, broken arm, and a ruptured eye.

DRPS, as well as Toronto Police, failed to notify the Special Investigations Unit, which would not begin investigating the attack until months later. Several months after the attack DRPS updated procedures for contacting the SIU.

By February 2019, more than half of Durham officers wanted Martin removed in a historic crisis of confidence in the service. Additionally, 77 per cent believed Martin should not get another term and 79 per cent believed there was a culture of favoritism under Martin.

The former Chief held on for more than a year after those findings before retiring. Todd Rollauer, an officer since 1987 and inspector since 2010, was appointed interim chief at that time.

However, told the Board he would not be filling the chair permanently. “Deputy Chief Rollauer has advised the Board that he is unable to make the long term commitment to the Chief of Police position, and therefore he will not be participating in this competitive process.”

Several initiatives to improve police transparency and oversight have started during Rollauer’s term, including police body-cameras. However, operating costs have also increased with the 2022 policing budget set to pass the quarter-billion dollar mark.

 

 

 

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