Paul Martin, the chief of Durham Regional Police Service, has announced his intention to retire in September.
Martin and the Durham Regional Police Services Board announced the news in a pair of statements Thursday afternoon.
The news comes after allegations were raised in 2019, as well as concerns about conduct in other high-profile incidents in recent years, involving a number of officers from the service.
For example, on Thursday it was announced the lawyers representing Dafonte Miller filed a complaint with Ontario’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director about the conduct of officers who responded to his assault in 2016.
Martin’s retirement also comes amid a number of recent high-level changes at police organizations in the Greater Toronto Area. Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack announced their plans to retire in 2020. Meanwhile, Jim MacSween was sworn-in as the new chief of York Regional Police in May.
In his lengthy statement, Martin’s comments mostly focused on the current policing environment.
“As one of the generation of police leaders that helped develop and implement a change agenda for policing, one that focused on respect in divisions and respect for everyone in our communities, one that worked hard to bring new faces and voices to policing, and one that had a deep commitment to transparency and accountability, I thought that by 2020 we would be seeing some of the success of those many years of hard work by executive teams and the officers we lead and serve,” he wrote.
“It has turned out to be a very different kind of year.
“There has not been a more difficult time to be a police officer in the community in my lifetime.”
Martin went on to say that there has been a shift in policing to prevention from remediation, arguing change has been made in more recent years and praising officers.
“We have evolved and built a different set of standards, we have delivered on many of those goals we set a decade or more ago. But this year also showed us how much more there is to do,” he wrote.
“We have been painfully reminded of the trust gap that needs to be bridged with some of the communities that we serve, and the importance of building these bridges cooperatively with the community. It has revealed that officers, despite the expectation of heroism, do falter, do struggle and do sometimes need help.”
Meanwhile, Durham Regional Police Services Board Chair Kevin Ashe praised Martin for his work as chief.
“Chief Martin earned a reputation as an agent of change, and his legacy will endure through innovative and evidence-based practices being embedded into the organization’s fabric,” Ashe wrote in a statement, also highlighting work on the Durham Connect project as well as community partnership initiatives.
Martin was first appointed chief in 2014 after serving as deputy chief. He worked in various units after joining the service in 1990.
The police board said an interim chief will be appointed after Martin retires. The statement said it will subsequently undertake a recruitment process for a new chief.