THUNDER BAY – Police chief Sylvie Hauth will face hearings over alleged misconduct, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) has announced.
The revelation comes just hours after Hauth announced her intention to retire effective June 2023.
Hauth was not aware of the notice of hearing at the time of Thursday’s retirement statement, a Thunder Bay Police Service spokesperson said.
Hauth would no longer be subject to the Police Services Act hearings upon her retirement, leaving uncertainty over whether the disciplinary process will have time to conclude before she departs.
The chief was not available for interview Thursday, according to the TBPS.
Colin Woods, president of the Thunder Bay Police Association that represents rank and file members, said it "just seems like too much of a coincidence" that the two announcements were made on the same day.
The association has previously raised concerns over the leadership of the force.
The news also raises questions over whether Hauth can continue serving in her position for another year until her retirement, Woods said.
The administrator appointed to oversee the police services board will have to seriously evaluate whether Hauth should be suspended pending the hearing, he said, noting the TBPS typically evaluates whether to suspend officers charged with PSA offences.
“To have a police chief served with notice of allegations, that’s pretty serious in my mind," he said.
The OCPC announced its investigation into Hauth and other leaders within the service in February.
The commission said at the time it would examine allegations Hauth failed to take appropriate steps to address actions by now-suspended deputy chief Ryan Hughes, provided "misinformation" to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, and failed to take appropriate steps to address allegations of misconduct by members of the TBPS.
In a statement released Wednseday, the commission said the investigation indicated a hearing under the PSA was warranted.
The hearing will examine three counts of alleged misconduct.
The first involves Hauth's role in an investigation the TBPS commenced against police services board member Goerjann Morriseau over breach of trust, related to allegations she shared confidential information with a police officer.
Hauth was aware of that investigation and allowed it to proceed, despite acknowledging in an Oct. 12, 2021 confidential memo to the police services board that "it would not be appropriate for a police service to investigate any of its members or board members," according information provided by the OCPC.
Hauth should have immediately terminated the investigation or immediately transferred it to another police service, the OCPC said.
The investigation was eventually transferred to the OPP, but not until Dec. 17, 2020. Hauth was aware of the investigation at least as early as Nov. 23, 2020, when suspended deputy chief Hughes informed her of details of the investigation in an email, according to evidence presented by the OCPC.
The OPP dropped the investigation into Morriseau after concluding her actions had not met the threshold of a criminal offence.
In a second count, the OCPC alleges Hauth "deceived or attempted to deceive" the police services board about her knowledge of the investigation of Morriseau.
In the Oct. 12, 2021 memo, Hauth led the board to believe she had no knowledge of the investigation until Dec. 9, 2020, weeks after the OCPC alleges she was informed of it by Hughes.
The third count Hauth faces involves a second memo she sent to the board on Oct. 18, 2021, clarifying she had received the earlier emails from Hughes. The second memo was sent only after Hughes asked Hauth to clarify the timeline to the board to indicate he had informed her of the investigation, according to the OCPC's statement of facts.
However, the OCPC charges Hauth continued to mislead the board about her knowledge of other aspects of the investigation, such as when a production order would be placed on Morriseau's phone.