September 11, 2017:
I would like to report on some important and immediate action the Durham Regional Police Service is taking as a result of our internal review of procedures.
As you know, I ordered the internal review in response to the disturbing case involving Mr. Dafonte Miller and an altercation with an on off-duty officer of another Police Service in Whitby on the night of December 28, 2016. It is properly now up to the courts to determine what happened on that night. Until the case is complete, I simply cannot talk about the facts of the case.
What I can say to you today is this: I am confident my department followed established procedures in keeping with provincial laws and regulations. But what is now equally clear to me is those procedures are inadequate and need to be changed. Specifically, the standard protocols we followed failed to ensure the public trust and transparency they were designed to enhance, and which every member of this community has a right to expect.
This is why I am implementing new procedures starting today. The Special Investigations Unit is a provincial law enforcement agency that exists precisely to provide independent investigations of incidents involving police officers and civilians that have resulted in serious injury. By provincial regulation, when an officer is involved in an altercation, it is up to his or her Police Service to decide whether there are sufficient grounds to call in the Special Investigations Unit. Ordinarily, that is as it should be. As the Chief of my department, I am ultimately responsible for the actions of all the men and women under my command.
However, what happens when the incident occurs in Durham but the officer involved is from another Police Service? By provincial regulation, it is up to his or her police department to call in the Special Investigations Unit.
In my opinion, this standard does not serve our community. I think we need to do more. As of today, this department will follow a different procedure, one I believe is a more transparent and accountable.
Let me be absolutely clear: From here on, if a conflict between one of our citizens and a police officer takes place in our community, and the incident meets the criteria for calling in the Special Investigations Unit, then I will do so.
There will be no exceptions: if the officer is from our Police Service the procedure will apply. If they are from another Service, the procedure will apply, on duty or off. Whatever happens in Durham will be the responsibility of the Durham Regional Police Service. As the Chief, I guarantee it.
We will still assist other police departments to manage these types of incidents involving one of their own members. But if we believe the case meets the necessary criteria, I will call in the Special Investigations Unit.
We pride ourselves on being an ethical and accountable Police Service. Everyday, the men and women of this Service go to work for the community, knowing they have to earn the confidence of all citizens. Today, we are taking another step to continue building that confidence. Some people have estimated that there may be up to 2,000 officers from other Police Services residing in Durham so this is an issue I believe I must tackle, and we have.
I have contacted the Police Chiefs of the GTA and other departments in the province and the OPP to inform them of our action today. There may be criticism about what we are doing. That's ok. We're not doing it to be popular. We're doing this because it is the right thing to do for our community.
Chief of Police
Durham Regional Police Service
September 11, 2017: