Nova Scotia’s Police Review Board has dismissed complaints against the Truro Police Service brought forward by the parents of a three-year-old boy who has been missing since spring 2020.
Dylan Ehler disappeared from his grandmother’s backyard on May 6, 2020, with police and first responders searching for a week but finding only his rubber boots in the nearby Lepper Brook.
Ehler’s parents, Jason Ehler and Ashley Brown, accused Truro police of not adequately investigating their son’s disappearance, claiming the police failed to “realistically pursue and investigate the prospect of criminality,” among other claims.
They also said the police force operated with “tunnel vision,” pursuing the theory that their son drowned at the expense of other possible explanations.
The family says ground search and rescue efforts should have been activated immediately, along with divers from the Coast Guard or RCMP, and an emergency alert should have been requested.
The police board’s decision, released July 17, acknowledged the parents of a small child who went missing would want “every possible lead, every possible tip, and every possible area searched for, and for [Truro police] to act quickly.”
But, the decision reads, the police “cannot override the law and they are subject to procedures that must be followed in given situations,” concluding the police force acted reasonably both in initially responding to the report of a missing child and in the subsequent investigation.
The family said police didn’t properly search the nearby woods or stream “within a timely manner,” but the board determined an officer was on the scene within four minutes of Dylan’s grandmother calling 911.
The three-person board said it was satisfied the police force arrived at the scene as quickly as possible and followed appropriate policies and procedures, and didn’t deny any resources to ground search and rescue teams who subsequently took the lead on the investigation.
Truro police also called in backup from RCMP, the provincial Department of Natural Resources and CN Rail police, all of whom “were engaged quickly.”
Dominic Fewer, the province’s regional manager of emergency management operations, told police an Amber Alert wasn’t possible, the decision says, but a “non-intrusive alert” was issued.
The decision notes the search efforts continued for six days, including 18 hours of aerial searching.