Published On Thu Feb 03 2011
Chief Designate Mike Ewles, shown when he was named as the new Police Chief of the Durham Regional Police Service in Whitby May 30, 2007. Ewles is now at the centre of allegations that the local police association is asking the Ontario Civilian Police Commission to investigate.YVONNE BERG/TORONTO STAR
Durham’s police chief faces fresh accusations of misconduct, following allegations that he refused to be searched at a hockey game, later claiming he was undercover and his wife’s purse contained a gun.
The incident is one of two involving Chief Mike Ewles that the Durham police association has asked the Ontario Civilian Police Commission to investigate.
In a letter obtained by the Star, association president Mike Glennie alleges Ewles may be guilty of misconduct or using “his position for private advantage.”
The letter alleges that Ewles balked at a request from General Motors Centre security guard to search his wife’s purse before an Oshawa Generals game last October, asking “Don’t you know who I am?” He later told a hockey representative he was “covertly profiling someone” at the game and carrying a weapon in his wife’s purse, the letter goes on.
The police association’s letter, which was sent to the commission last week, also alleges that Ewles stepped in when the owner of a local car dealership was caught speeding in July 2009. He allegedly called the traffic officer and said he was the car dealer’s friend.
The allegations have not been substantiated. Ewles, through a police spokesman, declined to comment on the letter’s claims.
“It is our long-standing policy here to refrain from commenting on any active allegations/complaints made against any police officer out of respect for the independent review process,” spokesman Dave Selby wrote in an email.
The allegations in the letter are the latest in a string involving Ewles. He was also recently accused of interfering in a domestic assault investigation on behalf of a former police volunteer.
That complaint was sent to another independent body, the Office of the Independent Review Director, in December.
The police association spoke with witnesses and used incident reports to piece together an account of Ewles’ actions.
The letter says that at the hockey game, Ewles initially told a GM Centre manager that his wife’s purse contained private medication. Then he stormed off.
Ewles later said was working undercover, according to the letter.
The previous summer, the owner of an Ajax car dealership was caught driving more than 50 km/h over the speed limit, the letter goes on. The car dealer’s vehicle was towed and his license suspended.
The letter alleges the officer handling the case received a call on his personal cellphone from Ewles. Ewles characterized the driver as a friend, but the officer reportedly told him a ticket had already been issued.
The letter claims another senior officer later made it clear that the chief shouldn’t have called, and that the traffic cop had a “feather in his cap should he ever need it.”
Ewles was sworn in as chief in 2007, after 25 years in Durham’s ranks. It had been more than a decade since an officer had moved up through the ranks to become chief. At police headquarters, cops congratulated Ewles not with handshakes but with bear hugs.
The police association’s complaint isn’t the first to surface about Ewles.
In December, lawyer Julian Falconer filed a complaint on behalf of an unnamed client alleging he was charged with assault against his estranged wife after Ewles interfered on her behalf.
Ewles acknowledged in an internal email that he made two phone calls during the domestic assault investigation, but was “confident the complaint will be found to be unsubstantiated.”
Falconer’s complaint is still before Durham’s police services board, which his legislatively tasked with determining whether it warrants a full investigation.
How the Ontario Civilian Police Commission will handle the latest complaint is not yet known. It has the power to investigate internal complaints, but has chosen not to exercise it in the past.
That leaves the police services board, responsible for monitoring the chief’s performance. The association informed the board of their allegations.
“I don’t think we’ll do much with it,” chair Roger Anderson said of the one page letter the board received. “There’s nothing there to warrant anything.”
The board hasn’t received any other complaints about Ewles. The association may be pushing back against a boss they don’t always agree with, Anderson said.
“It appears to me that everything is fine. If it’s not, I’m sure we’d hear about it,” he said.