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UPDATED: Hauth suspended as police chief

Thunder Bay police chief Sylvie Hauth is now suspended, days after it was announced she would face misconduct hearings.
Sylvie Hauth
Thunder Bay Police Service Chief Sylvie Hauth speaks to city council in 2019. (Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com)

THUNDER BAY – Embattled police chief Sylvie Hauth has been suspended, days after it was learned she will face misconduct hearings under the Police Services Act.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, the Thunder Bay Police Services Board said Hauth "has been suspended from her role as a result of the serious
allegations brought forward by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC), pending the outcome of that process."

Thunder Bay Police Services Board secretary John Hannam confirmed to TBnewswatch earlier Tuesday that Hauth was "on leave," following closed session meetings of the board earlier that day. He did not specify the nature of that leave, nor whether it would be paid or unpaid.

Superintendant Dan Taddeo, who was appointed deputy chief of the Thunder Bay Police Service earlier this year after the suspension of Ryan Hughes, is currently acting as chief, Hannam said.

Administrator Malcolm Mercer – appointed to act in place of the board amid internal dysfunction – said earlier in the day a decision about Hauth's future would be made in collaboration with remaining board members, who have no official decision-making power.

"I consider it important to consult and work with the board and to, where possible, develop consensus among us.”

Mercer also said it’s possible he’ll still be acting in place of the board when it comes time to pick Hauth’s replacement.

Hauth announced her retirement Friday, just hours before the OCPC announced the hearings against her.

She has said she intends to stay in her role until June 2023 – something the Thunder Bay Police Association has called unsustainable, saying Mercer would need to seriously consider suspending her.

At least one member of the police services board, Georjann Morriseau, agreed.

“Anybody else in this situation would have been essentially walked out the door,” she said in a recent interview. “We saw that the deputy [chief] was suspended right away. What’s the difference here, and why should there be a double standard? I just don’t think it looks good, I don’t think it makes sense.”

Hauth will face three counts of alleged misconduct under the PSA, all relating to an investigation the TBPS launched against Morriseau.

In a notice of hearing, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission said Hauth had acknowledged it was inappropriate for the force to investigate its own board member, and should have immediately terminated the case or transferred it to another police service.

The case was eventually transferred to the OPP, but not until nearly a month after Hauth first learned about it, the OCPC alleges (the OPP later dropped the investigation, finding no grounds for criminal charges).

Hauth would no longer be subject to the Police Services Act hearings upon her retirement, raising questions over whether she will face the hearings before her departure.

The police services board approved a $45,000 contract with recruitment firm Odgers Berndtson at the Tuesday meeting, taking a step forward on selecting her successor.

Recruiting a new police chief is a process that can take five to six months, said board secretary John Hannam.

Morriseau raised some concern over the fact the contract was single sourced, something Hannam said was related to tight timelines.

The firm has a strong track record in police recruitment and was previously hired locally after open competitions to recruit city managers and police chiefs including Hauth, he said.

“I wouldn’t consider that a good success record,” Morriseau retorted.

Asked if it would come down to him or a re-empowered police services board to make the hiring decision, Mercer said that could be a question of timing. He was appointed by the OCPC for a six-month term beginning April 19, though it could be extended.

“In part, I suspect that will depend where we are in the recruitment process and when good quality names become available,” he said. “I don’t think it’s something you can predict with perfection.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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