New Durham top cop takes charge of policing from Pickering to Beaverton, effective March 24

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Published March 3, 2023 at 2:03 pm

Durham Regional Police has a new chief set to take charge by month’s end in Toronto Police Inspector Staff Superintendent Peter Moreira, a 32-year policing veteran.

The search for a new permanent Durham Regional Police Chief stretches back to 2020 when then-Chief Paul Martin announced his resignation that July amid a year-long investigation into “corruption, criminality and serious misconduct” within the service.

The early stages of the investigation found senior administration allowed or participated in “workplace harassment of all kinds, intimidation of subordinates, retaliatory discipline, and potential alleged criminal conduct and/or misconduct.”

At the time, Durham Police were being led by a special administrator who took over duties usually prescribed to chiefs, as the number of allegations continued to rise.

After Martin’s resignation, DRPS tapped Todd Rollauer to take charge as interim chief. Rollauer never intended to keep the job for long and never put his name forward for the permanent position.

Under Rollauer’s interim leadership, the Durham force undertook several initiatives to improve police transparency and oversight, including police body cameras.

Meanwhile, the police service launched a public consultation to determine what the public wanted to see in a new permanent chief. Consultancy firm Environics Research was hired to collect data from the public in 2021.

Their process found Durham Region residents prioritized;

  • courageous, transformative leadership
  • emotional intelligence
  • commitment to positive community engagement and
  • deep and varied policing experience

DRPS concluded Moreira best fit the bill. Ajax Mayor and Police Board Chair Shaun Collier called Moreira an  “exemplary police leader,” adding that “his experience and skillset reflect precisely the competencies the Board prioritized in its next Chief of Police.”

“Over his 30-year career, Chief Designate Moreira has earned high levels of trust and respect among members at all levels of the Toronto Police Service and across that city’s diverse communities.”

Moreira, who has lived in Durham his entire life, joined Toronto Police in 1991 as a Cadet, graduating  from the Ontario Policing College in 1993.

Over the last 30 year he served in numerous major investigative units including the Homicide Squad, Integrated Gun & Gang Task Force, and 51 Division, which patrols a sizable portion of downtown Toronto centred around Moss Park.

“Moreira’s dedication to public safety and community building is evident in his various accomplishments, including his role as the Staff Superintendent responsible for Public Safety Operations, where he led the TPS response to the protests related to the 2022 Emergencies Act in Toronto,” said the Durham Regional Police Board in a statement.

During Martin’s tenure, off-duty Toronto officer Michael Theriault attacked 19-year-old Dafonte Miller in Whitby in 2016. The attack cost Miller an eye and broken bones. Neither Durham nor Toronto police – with the Inspector on duty that night being none other than Moreira – notified the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) of the attack. A subsequent review by Waterloo Police found this to be an breach of procedure.

Moreira was one of two SIU On-Call Designates the night Dafonte Miller was beaten and it fell on him to report the assault. But Moreira and his immediate superior, Inspector Ed Boyd, reasoned that since Theriault did not identify himself as a police officer they decided not to inform the SIU as a result.

In the Waterloo review, the investigators determined Theriault had in fact engaged his oath by affecting an arrest and that Boyd and Moreira’s decision not to notify the SIU was a breach of procedure. The investigation ultimately found the matter should be forwarded the the Toronto Police Chief for investigation under the Police Services Act.

However, by the time the investigation had concluded, Boyd had retired and Moreira was not investigated because he reported to Boyd at the time.

Theriault was ultimately convicted of assault and sentenced to nine months in prison. Following his conviction, he was fired from Toronto Police.

Moreira, meanwhile, was eventually promoted to Staff Superintendent and also signed on for the Bachelor of Arts – Policing Honours program at Wilfrid Laurier University. He is set to get his diploma in June.

The Durham Police Board said Moreira “strongly believes in partnerships and collaboration as essential to achieving community safety and well-being.

“He has developed important relationships with key stakeholders to improve community-police relations and produce better outcomes for communities. Chief Moreira looks forward to building authentic relationships with the communities in Durham Region as he continues his policing journey,” the board said.

He takes the reigns March 24.

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