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Province appoints administrator to oversee DRPS

Local force currently under investigation by Ontario Civilian Police Commission, Police Chief Paul Martin temporarily stripped of some responsibilities

With Durham’s police service facing serious allegations of misconduct against senior officers, an administrator has taken over certain responsibilities from Police Chief Paul Martin.

The Ontario Civilian Police Commission has issued an order appointing retired Toronto Police Deputy Chief Mike Federico to oversee the force while it investigates accusations made against Martin and other officials and the Durham Police Services Board.

The investigation is a result of several allegations brought forward by current and former DRPS employees to the Ministry of the Solicitor General in January.  Minister Sylvia Jones then asked the commission to decide whether an investigation was warranted.

Earlier this year, the Toronto Star reported some of the complaints are linked to abuse of power, corruption, and mistreatment.

On Friday, the Star further reported that Tribunals Ontario executive director Linda Lamoureux cited a “crisis of confidence” within Durham Police for Martin and his senior leadership.

An order from Lamoureux also states the commission received “credible information” senior officers “might have” participated in, tolerated or attempted to cover up criminal conduct, the Star reports.

The Oshawa Express has not been able to independently confirm any of the allegations made in the investigation, which remains ongoing.

Durham’s police services board released a statement regarding the investigation on May 25.

Board officials said they would work closely with the commission and Federico, and promised to provide the public with “as much information it can” to ensure transparency.

“The board strives to adhere to the highest standards of accountability and transparency in the provision of policing services to the citizens of Durham and to preserving public trust and confidence in the leadership of our police service,” the statement reads.

This is not the first time Martin and his leadership team have faced severe internal criticism.

In March 2018, a survey commissioned by the Durham Regional Police Association alleged a “toxic environment” within the DRPS workforce.

The survey also suggested a lack of confidence in the police services board.

Thirty-six per cent of the 1,150 members of the association took part in the survey.

More than half of the respondents (52 per cent) felt that Martin should be removed from his position as soon as possible, and 66 per cent noted dissatisfaction with the overall performance of the board.

In addition, 70 per cent of respondents stated they have faced at least one instance of bullying or harassment over the past three years.