The Ontario Provincial Police’s Criminal Investigations Branch has confirmed that it is conducting “a thorough and independent investigation” into allegations of criminal misconduct against certain members of the Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS).
Ontario Provincial Police spokesman Bill Dickson said Tuesday the investigation has begun, after the attorney general forwarded a request for an investigation to the provincial police in December.
The spokesperson said he could not comment on specific details of the case or investigation, or speculate on the duration of the investigation or the possible outcome, “to protect the integrity of the investigation and any resulting legal proceedings”.
CBC News has reached out to TBPS and its oversight board for comment.
This is the latest investigation into the troubled police force in the past month.
In January, Ontario’s Solicitor General asked the police watchdog, the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police, to investigate the service’s chief, deputy chief and administration. from police. The police commission has since launched its own investigation.
Deputy chief suspended
The Thunder Bay Police Services Board suspended Deputy Chief Ryan Hughes pending an internal investigation in late January.
Tuesday’s news comes as the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario is processing at least nine complaints and three follow-up complaints filed by active and retired officers and civilians with TBPS, alleging harassment and discrimination based on on mental health, race and gender.
The police oversight board has come under scrutiny for its own handling of complaints, with calls for the board to be dismantled and temporarily replaced by an independent administrator – something one of the board members demanded. counsel Georjann Morriseau, who said last month that the police department was “on the brink of collapse.”
A final report on the new inquest into nine Indigenous deaths in Thunder Bay is also expected to be presented to the police services board in a few weeks.
The Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario confirmed that there would be a request for an inquest into additional Indigenous deaths, although it did not provide additional details on how many deaths would be a new investigation or when they occurred. The office said the chief coroner would order an independent systemic review of the death investigation process in Thunder Bay.
Less than five years ago, two of Ontario’s police oversight bodies — the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission — found evidence of systemic racism within TBPS and Supervisory Board.