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‘They don’t get it:’ Durham police chief addresses criticism against force in year-end interview

In a one-on-one interview with Global News, Durham police chief Paul Martin responded to multiple officer-involved incidents that happened in 2019.
In a one-on-one interview with Global News, Durham police chief Paul Martin responded to multiple officer-involved incidents that happened in 2019. File / Global News
Click to play video: 'Year in review: DRPS' Year in review: DRPS
Year in review: DRPS – Dec 31, 2019
Click to play video: 'Year in review: DRPS' Year in review: DRPS
Year in review: DRPS – Dec 31, 2019

In a year-end interview, Durham police chief Paul Martin spoke about the criticism the force is facing, following numerous allegations from 2019 involving the force’s officers.

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The most recent incident, which surfaced in early December,  involved a hockey coach allegedly hitting a 10-year-old girl who played on the opposing team.

The incident was caught on camera, and it was later revealed that the coach was a Durham police officer.

Just a couple of weeks prior to this allegation, in late November, news of a racist photo posted to a Facebook group run by retirees and current members of DRPS surfaced. 

READ MORE: Clarington, Ont. coach allegedly hits opposing team’s player during hockey tournament

When asked about challenges regarding off-duty incidents involving officers that have happened this past year, Martin said, “You’re going to have an element of your service or your employees that just don’t get it.”

“It’s been a disappointment in some respects,” Martin said, “but what I’m reminded of is the vast majority the men and women in this service are here for the right reasons.”

When asked about the racist photo that was posted to the Facebook group, the chief said he doesn’t understand why the incident happened.

Click to play video: 'DRPS responds to racist photo posted by retired member' DRPS responds to racist photo posted by retired member
DRPS responds to racist photo posted by retired member – Nov 27, 2019
“I just don’t know,” he said. “[With] the awareness and the education that’s out there, why you would think that’s remotely okay?
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“But some do, and that’s what I mean by they don’t get it.”

Martin also spoke about his accountability as chief when it comes to situations like these.

“At the end of the day, I own the actions of the officers that still work for me. I get that, and I take my responsibility seriously,” he said.

“I’m limited by the fact that people have personal lives and they’re all over the place and I can’t police that, but I will deal with the issues I can deal with.”

Martin also responded to his own name appearing in the news earlier this year, following a number of accusations against high-ranking members.

“Personally, it’s not a good thing,” he said. “I have family, I have friends within this region and certainly you get a lot of questions about that.”

“I am confident that with a fair, impartial, unbiased investigation I know how it’s going to turn out, and it’s not going to be the way it’s portrayed.”

READ MORE: Police watchdog reviewing complaints against senior DRPS staff

Martin added he is cooperating with the investigation.

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As for what the force will be focusing on in 2020, the chief said DRPS has approved its 2020-2022 business plan.

He says DRPS will continue to prioritize traffic, human trafficking and domestic violence investigations, but they will be looking at some new areas, as well.

These include, “looking at the changing nature of harm and [trying] to be as proactive and predictive as possible to make sure we’re aligning our resources to deal with those things,” he said.

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