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Police union to sit down with chief to discuss issues

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

Following a report that highlighted a startling lack of trust in Durham Regional Police Chief Paul Martin among his police officers, the union and the Chief have arranged a time to meet in the hopes of getting on the same page.

According to Randy Henning, the president of the Durham Regional Police Association (DRPA), following a closed discussion with the Police Services Board on April 9, the union has organized a time to sit down with Chief Martin this Friday, April 20.

“Obviously communication is the key to solving any issues and we’re hoping that the lines of communication now that they’ve been finally opened will continue to be open and we’ll progress with that, letting the chief and the board know the concerns of our membership,” Henning says.

Those concerns were detailed in a survey completed by Pollara and released last month. It notes that there is a lack of confidence in the leadership of not only Chief Martin, but also in CAO Stan MacLellan and the oversight of the Police Services Board. Over half of respondents (52 per cent), felt that Chief Martin should be removed from his position as soon as possible, and 66 per cent noted a dissatisfaction with the overall performance of the Police Services Board.

The survey also found that 70 per cent of members had experienced at least one instance of bullying or harassment over the past three years. Of those, only 21 per cent filed a complaint.

DRPS members feel there is a “culture of favouritism” among senior management, and that promotions are based on “who you know” and not merit, the survey states.

The findings however, were not news to Henning, or the DRPA, as Henning previously stated, they’d been sharing the concerns with police management for up to two years.

“We have been telling the board, and the chief, and anybody else that wants to listen from command, that there’s been problems,” Henning previously said. “It’s a sad state for the Durham Regional Police Service that it had to take the association to conduct its own survey of the members and produce those numbers in the public forum in order to get results or get action, to an issue that they’ve known for two years.”

Moving forward, Henning says he hopes that following the April 20 meeting, he can be provided with some kind of commitment from the chief that the door will remain open to resolve issues in the future.

“I think just a commitment from the chief and his command that they will actually sit and speak with us on a regular basis,” he says. “At this point, that would be a step in the right direction toward the right path. So, a commitment from the chief that they’re going to make the time to meet with, what I would consider, the biggest internal stakeholder they have, which is the DRPA.”

Fixing the culture at DRPS is not only beneficial for the membership, Henning says, but for all of Durham Region, as the less stress officers deal with at the office, the more focused they can be in protecting the citizens of Durham. It’s something Henning says the police service has been coping quite well with so far.

“They’re putting the internal stuff aside and letting their association executive and command deal with that, but still going and doing their calls,” he says. “It actually is a testament to the hard working members of the police service totally, that through all this turmoil that’s going internally, they’re still out there doing their job and doing it very, very well.”