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A blow to public trust

A few weeks ago, an editorial in the Oshawa Express reminded the community to say “thank you” to police officers for all the work they do.

After this past weekend, some residents may have other words for Durham’s police force.

The news broke that the Ontario Civilian Police Commission is investigating DRPS regarding a number of serious allegations against Police Chief Paul Martin and other senior officers.

The province has stripped Martin of a number of his duties for the duration of the investigation, appointing Mike Federico, a retired former Deputy Chief with Toronto Police, to oversee the service in the interim.

The allegations leading to the investigation are highly serious, including accusations of bullying and intimidation from senior officials.

Perhaps more alarming than the allegations is the fact they are being made by current and former employees of DRPS.

At this point, none of these allegations have been proven, but a great deal of damage has been done to the reputation of Durham Police.

Regardless of what the commission’s investigation reveals, it will take a lot of work to   re-establish public trust in the chief and the entire DRPS.

There has been some prior evidence of something being amiss with the service.
Last year, results of a survey commissioned by the Durham Regional Police Association suggested both a lack of trust in Martin and a “toxic environment” within the DPRS workforce.

About 36 per cent of the association’s 1,150 members participated, with 52 per cent of respondents feeling Martin should be removed from his position as soon as possible, and 66 per cent noting dissatisfaction with the overall performance of the Durham Police Services Board.

Also, 70 per cent of respondents said they had experienced at least one instance of bullying or harassment over the past three years.

Again, while the results of the commission’s investigation will play a big part in the future of the service, serious work needs to be done to maintain the public’s trust at this point in time.

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