Administrator appointed to oversee parts of Durham Regional Police amid watchdog investigation

Durham Regional Police Chief Paul Martin is seen in an undated photo. Twitter

Officials say former Toronto police deputy chief Mike Federico has been appointed as an administrator to oversee parts of the Durham Regional Police Service, temporarily stripping Chief Paul Martin of a few of his responsibilities amid an investigation into the service.

Marion Isabeau Ringuette, press secretary to Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, said in a statement Friday evening that no one has been relieved of their duties as part of the investigation by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC).

“Concerns were brought to the attention of the Solicitor General regarding the Durham Regional Police Service and Durham Regional Police Services Board. As a result, the Solicitor General requested that the Ontario Civilian Police Commission investigate these allegations,” she wrote.

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“We have confidence in the OCPC to take the appropriate steps to investigate the allegations that have been brought forward. The people of Durham can be assured that the OCPC investigation does not impact front-line policing services.”

Isabeau Ringuette said it would be “inappropriate” to comment further while the investigation remains active.

The allegations against the service were contained in an order signed on Thursday by the commission’s executive director, Linda Lamoureux.

“The commission’s preliminary review has revealed a deep sense of mistrust in the judgment, integrity, and capacity of the service’s leadership and the board’s oversight abilities,” Lamoureux wrote.

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The preliminary findings allege the “senior administration allowed, tolerated, encouraged, participated in, and/or was wilfully blind to workplace harassment of all kinds, intimidation of subordinates, retaliatory discipline, and potential alleged criminal conduct and/or misconduct under the (Police Services Act).”

The order also said the commission has received “credible information” that suggests the force’s leadership “might have covered up (and) attempted to cover-up” alleged misconduct towards subordinates and that “they may have interfered in previous external and internal investigations.”

The commission outlined 15 areas it will investigate, including whether the board had “appropriate oversight” over the hiring and contract extensions of senior leadership; whether a senior officer provided false testimony to gain favour with the chief, and whether the chief and the chief administrative officer “improperly influenced and/or prevented investigations into alleged violations of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.”

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Pickering Coun. Kevin Ashe, who is chair of the Durham Region Police Services Board, told Global News Friday evening that he personally hasn’t received any official documentation outlining the administrator’s appointment as he is out of town at a police conference.

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He said it’s his understanding that the OCPC order assigns oversight responsibility of discipline, promotions, and approval of secondary employment to Federico.

“The chief is not suspended. The chief is still running the service. We look forward to working with the administrator,” he said.

Ashe said the board hasn’t seen the specific allegations under review by the OCPC, but wants to ensure the complaint is reviewed.

“We look forward to working with the Commission to review the allegations that were previously submitted and the Board strives for transparency in this regard,” he said.

Ashe said a special meeting of the Durham Region Police Services Board is expected to be held next week.

Durham Regional police Chief Paul Martin said in a statement Monday that he welcomed an “open, transparent and unbiased inquiry” from the commission.

“It is unfortunate that policing resources must once again be expended, much of it on claims that have already been investigated,” he said.

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“I will do my best to ensure this is the last time they can be resurrected, and that this is done as fairly and without bias as possible, to remove this unfair shadow over the men and women who serve, with distinction, the communities in Durham Region.”

The announcement comes after the OCPC confirmed in April that it was investigating allegations. According to reports by The Toronto Star, the review stems from allegations of corruption, mistreatment, and abuse of power against Martin and his leadership. The newspaper reported multiple veteran officers came forward with complaints.

Some of the allegations cited by The Star involved senior command officers threatening two officers with “trumped up accusations of misconduct in attempts to intimidate … those who had fallen out of favour with the management” and “a high-ranking officer lied on the stand to ‘cover up for the chief’ and then was given a promotion.”

Global News has not been able to independently confirm the allegations.

— With files from The Canadian Press and Brittany Rosen

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