Peter Moreira sworn in as new Durham Region Police Chief at ceremony in Ajax

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Published March 24, 2023 at 12:18 pm

There’s a new top cop in Durham Region with today’s Change of Command Ceremony that saw Toronto Police Inspector Staff Superintendent Peter Moreira, a 32-year policing veteran, take over Chief of Police duties from interim Chief Todd Rollauer with a pledge to build trust with the community.

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

After Martin’s resignation, Durham Police tapped Todd Rollauer to take charge as interim chief. Rollauer, a 35-year veteran of the service who is retiring, never intended to keep the job for long and didn’t put his name forward for the permanent position.

Rollauer was emotional in his address at Friday’s ceremony at the Deer Creek Golf Club in Ajax.

“I am humbled, excited and obviously emotional,” said the outgoing Chief, who showed a self-deprecating sense of humour between the awkward silences as he tried to get his emotions under control. “I had the opportunity to live out a childhood dream. I was doing what I loved and what I wanted to do,”

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

Todd Rollauer

Meanwhile, the police service launched a public consultation to determine what the public wanted to see in a new permanent chief, with the process discovering residents prioritized:

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

Moreira was found to 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.

At the ceremony Collier praised Moreira for his “collaborative leadership” and “willingness to do things differently” during his 30-plus year career with Toronto Police.

Sword ceremony with new police chief Peter Moreira

The only red flag for Moreira’s candidacy happened during Martin’s tenure when 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 and neither Durham nor Toronto police – with the Inspector on duty that night being none other than Moreira – notified the Special Investigations Unit of the attack. A subsequent independent review by Waterloo Police found this to be a breach of procedure.

Moreira 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.

Moreira said trust will be one of three priorities in the first year in his new role as Durham’s Police Chief, with building trust in the community and among the officers under his command on his wish list.

“Trust underpins everything we do,” he said, adding the residents of Durham must be confident their police force will protect them and be “compassionate” while doing so.

The swearing-in ceremony

Developing partnerships within the community and continuing the modernization of the force begun under Rollauer will be the other two priorities for Moreira, who noted the DRPS will celebrate 50 years next year.

“This a great time to take stock and see where we’ll be in the next 50 years.”

The ceremony was attended by senior police staff, local politicians – Ontario Premier Doug Ford sent in a message via video – Durham Chair John Henry, former Veterans Affairs Minister and Toronto and London Police Chief Julian Fantino and two former DRPS chiefs.

The guests of honour were piped in to the room and the ceremony included a ceremonial sword presentation and a smudging ceremony performed by Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation Councillor Jeff Forbes.

The messages on social media channels were overwhelmingly positive as residents sent messages of support and congratulations for Moreira and Rollauer and the new police chief called it an “incredible day.”

He also promised the Durham Regional Police Service will “continue to be progressive and innovative” under his leadership.

With files from Liam McConnell

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