Durham police chief issues statement on systemic racism and discrimination

Statement of Chief of Police, Paul Martin

In speaking to members across the Durham Regional Police Service and our community, witnessing what is occurring in Canada and beyond, and reflecting on our community and our police service I wanted to share my perspective.

In reflecting on our community it struck me that in my life I have not witnessed a time when we faced so many incredible cross-pressures, all hitting us at the same time. Our country has faced a pandemic whose full impact we will not know for some time, but the loss for many has already been great. In addition, this has been a difficult time for many people in our community, particularly those who have been impacted by systemic racism and discrimination.

One of the positive outcomes of our current context, however, is that it has caused all of us – but particularly those of us in policing, to take a hard look at what we do and how we do it. It is not enough for Durham Regional Police Service to send messages of understanding, without being willing to do that introspection ourselves.

Along with my Executive Leadership Team we have developed the following actions to address concerns raised by our community. Over the next several months we will be rolling them out:

1. Race-based data: The Province mandates the collection of race-based data for ‘Use of Force’ interactions. Some Services have chosen to expand this collection to other interactions. In July, we will set our strategy and begin this process here. It will be even more important to shine a light on the approximately 500,000 interactions that we have with the public each year.

2. Community members: Will be invited to participate in recruitment and promotion interviews and in policy review. This summer we will train interested members of the community to participate in some of our interview processes and to review our internal policies and directives. It is important to open our doors and let the residents of this Region, whom we serve, see how we make decisions about who leads, who gets hired, and how we manage internal processes.

3. Duty to intervene training: We recognize the importance of calling out bad behavior when we see it, no matter the degree or who it involves. Annually, we will ensure ‘by-stander/duty to intervene training, and other equity and inclusion-related programs so that we are continually refreshed on these skills.

4. Demographic census: In September, we will launch an internal demographic census of the composition of our organization, in order to identify areas of concern and disparities in our work toward inclusion, including in leadership, promotions, and career opportunities. We will ensure that we are practicing what we preach in becoming an equitable and inclusive organization.

Durham Regional Police Service is committed to seeing the rollout of these initiatives, and available to answer any questions that you might have. We will move forward in a spirit of transparency and clarity, and be in touch as we progress.

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