TBPS Chief Faces Misconduct Hearing

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Thunder Bay Police Service

Ontario Civilian Police Commission To Hold Hearing on Chief Hauth

THUNDER BAY – NEWS – The Ontario Civilian Police Commission report that following an investigation under s. 25 of the Police Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.15. (PSA) into certain alleged conduct of Ms. Sylvie Hauth, Chief of the Thunder Bay Police Service, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC), has determined that a hearing into the allegations is warranted.

Accordingly, a Notice of Hearing has been served on Chief Hauth setting out three counts of alleged misconduct, contrary to the Code of Conduct included In Ontario Regulation 268/10 enacted under the PSA.

This comes on the same day that TBPS Chief Hauth issued a statement that she would be retiring on June 14, 2023.

Thunder Bay Chief of Police Sylvie Hauth faces accusations of 3 cases of misconduct:

  • That Chief Hauth failed to take the appropriate steps to address allegations against Deputy Chief Ryan Hughes.
  • That Chief Hauth provided misinformation about that investigation to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board.
  • That Chief Hauth failed to take the appropriate steps to address allegations of wrongdoing about other members of the Thunder Bay police.

The investigation by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission are related to information that started with a member of the police service receiving a text message from a Thunder Bay blogger who was running a page on Facebook seeking inside information on a reported drug bust.


Background

Thunder Bay Police Service and Media

There is a professional relationship between the Thunder Bay Police Service and media. The TBPS communications branch and sometimes the Sergeant issue media reports, and serve as the communications bridge between the service and media. There are times that police may need to keep some particulars to an investigation out of the public. This is to allow the police investigation to continue to move forward.

The Thunder Bay Police Service provides assistance to accredited news media outlets and professional journalists.


The OCPC Notice of Particulars states, “In May 2020, the Thunder Bay Police Service (Service) initiated a criminal investigation into leaks by an unidentified member of the Service to a Thunder Bay resident”.

Under Count #1 states that “On July 24, 2020, Cat Exell of the Break, Enter, and Armed Robbery (BEAR) unit received a text message on his service issued cell phone containing the following textL “Hey Mike, I see they are thanking members of the Thunder Bay Police in their bust announcement. Any anonymous info about what hardworking TBPS officers did?” Cat. Exell informed his immediate superior officer, D/Sgt Woods.”

On or about August 2, 2020, the OCPC says there was a member of the Thunder Bay Police Service who approached former Police Services Board Chair Georjann Morriseau at the Home Sense retail store in Thunder Bay and relayed that members of the TBPS BEAR Unit were talking about that text.

Morriseau relayed that information to TBPS Deputy Chief Hughes on August 7, 2020.

An investigation was started into the misconduct of the officer in apparently leaking internal information.

That led to an investigation into the actions of Board Chair Morriseau, with TBPS Inspector John Fennell who was in charge of the criminal investigation into the leaks, who interviewed Chair Morriseau at her residence on August 18, 2020.

The TBPS started an internal investigation into the identity of the officer who approached Morriseau.

TBPS investigators seemed to feel that the investigation centred on Detective Jason Rybak. Morriseau report the OCPC repeatedly told investigators that it was not Rybak who had approached her.

By November 10, 2020, Deputy Chief Hughes spoke with Detective Rybak on an unrelated matter, the Detective then informed the Deputy Chief that he had been informed that his name had been mentioned in the internal investigation about giving the Chair of the Police Services Board information regarding the text message and suggesting he was the identified officer.

On November 19, 2020 in a subsequent conversation with Deputy Chief Hughes, Detective Rybak informed him that the individual who imparted that information to him was Chair Morriseau.

Shortly after receiving that information a criminal investigation was initiated against Chair Morriseau for an alleged breach of trust and obstruct police under the criminal code. The basis for the investigation was Chair Morriseau telling Detective Rybak that his name came up in the internal investigation as a possible suspect in providing her with the information about the text message.

What led to the First Count on Chief Hauth was the criminal investigation of Board Chair Morriseau. The OCPC in their Notice of Particulars on the allegations states, “As she wrote in a Confidential Memo to her board dated October 12, 2021 discussed in Count #2 particulars, Chief Hauth knew “it would not be appropriate for a police service to investigate any of its members or board members…”.

The OCPC says, “Chief Hauth’s commission in tacitly or overtly consenting to this criminal investigation or omission in not immediately terminating or transferring a criminal investigation into Chair Morriseau to another police service was likely to bring discredit to the Thunder Bay Police Service because she knew or ought to know it would bring irreconcilable conflict between her duty to account to the Board and the duty of the Service to conduct a fair and unbiased investigation”.

Count 2 is based on what the OCPC states, “On October 12, 2021, Chief Hauth submitted a Confidential Memorandum regarding the OPP investigation into the allegations against Chair Morriseau to the Board. The report contained a number of false statements which would lead the reasonable reader to conclude that she had no knowledge that DC Hughes had initiated a criminal investigation against Chair Morriseau until December 9, 2020. That memo was distributed to the Board members on October 12, 2021  and it was anticipated they could rely on it for the truth of its contents”.

Count 3

Count 3 of the OCPC allegations against Chief Hauth state that “Chief Hauth deceived or attempted to deceive the Board in her October 18, 2021 memo by denying knowledge of the criminal investigation as it was unfolding in November 2020 in an attempt to avoid her responsibility to immediately terminate or transfer such an investigation.”

There has not been a date set for a hearing.

Former Board Chair and current Police Services Board member Georjann Morriseau posted online, “And so it begins… contrary to public statements made the past few months by leadership. Clearly, I and many others weren’t lying, crazy or self serving after all. Instead I as a board member have remained committed to the overall public interest and service needs. While it’s still the beginning, at least some action is finally being taken by appropriate over site body to address these critical challenges”.

“Lending some much needed reassurance at this time. Especially given the risk this has all posed for the general public and tax payers, families, members of service, stakeholders, treaty partners etc. I will remain cautiously optimistic and humble”.

“As this entire painfully gruelling experience has taught me that some people will stop at nothing. United we stand. Divided we fall. We still have a lot of work to do and need to focus our efforts there”.

The Thunder Bay Police Services Board is currently being run by an OCPC Administrator.

The next Thunder Bay Police Services Board Meeting date will be June 28, 2022. It will occur at 9:30 am at the Delta Hotel in Ballroom BC as well as via Zoom.