Ontario Civilian Police Commission to Investigate Senior Thunder Bay Police Officers

The Ontario Civilian Police Commission has opened an investigation into the Thunder Bay Police Service into allegations of serious misconduct and a range of other concerns, ranging from disciplinary action and the conduct of officers in investigations how the Chief of Police and the Deputy Chief run day-to-day operations.

The commission’s announcement on Friday comes a day after the Ontario Provincial Police said it was also considering an investigation and highlighted a number of allegations against Chief Sylvie Hauth and Deputy Chief Ryan Hughes. , as well as the chief’s attorney, Holly Walbourne.

In the terms of reference, the commission said it decided to investigate after completing a preliminary review, which was conducted at the request of the Thunder Bay Police Commission and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.

“I am satisfied that the circumstances require a thorough investigation,” said Sean Weir, executive chair of Courts Ontario for the commission.

The commission said it will investigate allegations against Deputy Chief Hughes that he initiated a criminal breach of trust investigation against board member Georjann Morriseau ‘without sufficient cause and without the knowledge of the chief’ . He also allegedly obtained a production order on Ms Morriseau’s mobile phone for “misleading reasons, which were obtained without the knowledge of the chief”, the commission said.

OPP Decision on Whether to Investigate Thunder Bay Police Service Coming Soon

Thunder Bay deputy police chief suspended pending investigation

Deputy Chief Hughes was suspended by the police commission on January 28 pending an internal investigation. A preliminary report to the board in December from Toronto human resources law attorney Lauren Bernardi found no evidence of harassment by Chief Hauth and Deputy Chief Hughes against an officer, but said that if the allegations against Deputy Chief Hughes “can be proven to be true, they would constitute workplace harassment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.”

Chief Hauth will be investigated for allegations that include failing to respond appropriately to the actions of Deputy Chief Hughes, providing misinformation to the police commission about the investigation into Ms. Morriseau and colluding with Deputy Chief Hughes and Ms. Walbourne in their responses to the commission regarding the council’s request for an investigation.

“The above allegations, if proven, may constitute gross misconduct under the Code of Conduct…for the [Police Services Act]“, indicates the mandate. “They raise serious concerns about the management of discipline within the police service, the conduct of criminal investigations by its officers and the ability of senior management to administer the day-to-day operations of the police service in good faith and in accordance with the [Police Services Act].”

The commission said the police commission asked last April to investigate the top brass of the force.

A letter to the commission dated April 29, 2021 from council chair Kristen Oliver does not indicate who the council wanted to investigate, but that her request came after receiving verbal and written allegations from council member Ms Morriseau about of “his interactions with members of the Thunder Bay Police Service, and later the Ontario Provincial Police, as part of an internal investigation.

The terms of reference also state that Ms Jones made a request to the commission on January 22, “regarding the investigation of council member Georjann Morriseau, the handling of discipline with the TBPS and its administration”.

In a January 22 letter from Ms Jones to Ms Morriseau’s attorney, Chantelle Bryson, the solicitor general said she was making the request to the commission based on Ms Bryson’s December 1 email, “concerning matters which have been referred to the CCOP and are the subject of motions to the Human Rights Tribunal. The letter also states that the request was made to “investigate the conduct and performance of the Chief, Deputy Chief, as well as on the administration of the police service”.

Ms Bryson filed nine human rights complaints on behalf of service members, including Ms Morriseau, over allegations of racism, discrimination and harassment against Chief Hauth, Deputy Chief Hughes, Ms Walbourne, other senior service members and the Council.

She said the commission had denied her clients’ inquiries into their complaints and they were unaware the council had requested the investigation.

The commission previously told the Globe that it would not comment on investigations or potential investigations.

The OPP is also expected to announce whether it will investigate members of the Thunder Bay police over allegations of misconduct following a request from the province’s attorney general. OPP spokesman Bill Dickson said the attorney general’s request to the OPP was unrelated to the solicitor general’s request to the commission.

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