Thunder Bay Police Services Board Reacts to Charges Against Former Chief of Police Hauth

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THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO — In a significant development that has rippled through the community, former Thunder Bay Police Chief Sylvie Hauth has been charged with obstruction and breach of trust by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). These charges have stirred considerable concern within the local governance and beyond as well as among the citizens and especially Indigneous people across the region.

Charges Brought Against Sylvie Hauth

Karen Machado, chair of the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, described the charges as “deeply disturbing.” This reaction underscores the gravity of the accusations against a figure who was expected to uphold the highest standards of law enforcement integrity.

“There is a legal and ethical expectation that information provided by Thunder Bay Police Service is truthful and factual, both to the board and to the community,” Machado elaborated, highlighting the foundational role of trust in the relationship between the police service and the public.

Thunder Bay Police Services Board Reacts to Allegations

The allegations have understandably caused concern about the reliability of the institutions responsible for policing and oversight in Thunder Bay.

Board Chair Machado addressed these concerns, stating, “I understand how these allegations have caused further doubts in these institutions and the system of policing and police oversight in Thunder Bay.” She assured the public of the board’s proactive stance on such serious matters: “Our board will not hesitate to act on any allegations of misconduct.”

NAN Statement – Problems have Not Been Addressed

“For years we have expressed serious concerns with the Thunder Bay Police Service and its ability to conduct competent death investigations, even to the point where we had to make a call for the disbandment of the Service. Those calls have been ignored, and we are faced with a situation where families who have lost loved ones are left with no recourse because they do not trust the work of the TBPS,” says NAN in a statement. “We are now in a climate in which a former Chief of Police and the service’s lawyer are facing charges for breach of trust by a public officer, obstruction of a public officer/or peace officer, and obstruction of justice. There is absolutely no trust whatsoever in the TBPS or its ability to conduct competent investigations into the deaths of Indigenous Peoples.

“No investigative body, police or otherwise, can function unless it has the trust of the community and people it serves. Despite numerous reports, nothing has happened to enhance the public’s trust in the TBPS. In fact, the Thunder Bay public, and especially Indigenous people, now have even more reason not to trust the police.

“We are disappointed that the current Chief of Police and the TBPS Board have failed to acknowledge the seriousness of this situation that we are now in. They continue to put the onus on the community to identify and solve systemic issues while failing to acknowledge the trauma experienced by our members and communities who have lost their loved ones without answers or credible investigations.

“The issues plaguing the TBPS, and its Board are not resigned to history, or the result of a few bad apples. They stem from deep, systemic issues that are ongoing and have yet to be addressed.

There have been too many losses and too many tears. We cannot continue in this way. The utter absence of a credible investigative body to investigate the deaths of Indigenous peoples in the city cannot be ignored.”

Legal Proceedings and Ongoing Commitment to Transparency

In response to the charges, Hauth’s lawyer, Scott Hutchinson, expressed confidence in the legal process and the principle of presumption of innocence. “Chief Hauth is confident that the people of Thunder Bay will not rush to any judgment and will respect the presumption of innocence. She looks forward to her trial where she will present her defence. She is confident she will prevail,” Lawyer Hutchinson stated.

Current Chief of Thunder Bay Police Service, Darcy Fleury states that he welcomes the investigation by the OPP as a pivotal step toward resolving the issues at hand and moving forward. “It is another step toward resolution of this matter and our ability to wholly move forward as a police service,” commented Fleury.

“Some of the boards, the policies or procedures, we have farmed out to some different agencies to have them look at it,” added Fleury. “Systemic racism, as we know, has been front and centre for many years, in pretty much all of the reports that we’ve seen. So we’ve asked these agencies to go through our policies and procedures and make sure that the language in there is not going to be putting us back into a pattern of that sort of systemic racism or potential for that.”

As the community awaits further developments, both the board and the police service remain committed to maintaining transparency and accountability.

The focus remains firm on restoring and maintaining public trust amid these challenging times.

Hauth’s court appearance is set for May 7th, marking a crucial forthcoming event in this unfolding story.

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