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OP-ED: Police Association seeking independent investigation into Police Service, board

Police rank-and-file say they're not happy with the inaction of Thunder Bay Police Chief Sylvie Hauth and her administration, who they believe are more focused on securing a new $56-million headquarters than addressing serious concerns brought to their attention by the union and board member Georjann Morriseau.
Thunder Bay Police
A Thunder Bay Police Service officer directs traffic on the Thunder Bay Expressway on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com)

THUNDER BAY -- Last October, the Thunder Bay Police Association (TBPA) publicly voiced its concern about the leadership of the Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS ) and its inaction when it came to addressing the issues raised by members of the TBPA as a result of a third-party survey conducted in early 2021.

The TBPA’s member satisfaction survey revealed numerous issues, notably that 81 per cent feel little or no support from senior management on current issues and associated media coverage affecting policing in Thunder Bay and across the province.

The survey results pointed to a workplace culture that is well known to be unsupportive, under-resourced and unappreciative of the intense and often traumatic jobs our members are expected to perform.

Not only do our members feel unable to voice their concerns without consequence, but we are extremely concerned by the growing number of members who have filed human rights complaints against the service. This consistent, systemic, poor treatment of individual members has been practically ignored by the Thunder Bay Police Services Board (TBPSB).

Promises by the police service to address these issues and work collaboratively with the association have
gone unfulfilled. Critically, the Board seems to have no interest in exercising any true oversight over Chief Hauth.

In May 2021, the findings were presented to the Chief and senior command, along with the TBPSB in hopes of starting a dialog and working collaboratively to make some positive changes at the service.

We went public in October with our issues as they were not being addressed and we felt they were important enough that the citizens of Thunder Bay deserved to know what was going on inside their police service. We are now speaking out publicly once again to voice our concern with the continued inaction of the TBPS and the TBPSB, and the fact that they have both allowed the issues to continue and only get worse.

Since October, the TBPA has met with Chief Hauth on several occasions, but none of the major issues that were identified in the TBPA survey have been addressed. The TBPA met with the chair and vice-chair of the board in December 2021 after the Association had reached out to them for the meeting.

In the meeting, the members of the TBPS stated that they knew the service has serious issues that needed to be addressed and had ideas on how to fix some of them, yet since then, we have heard nothing, nor have we seen any changes. We would like to
remind the public that the TBPSB conducted their own internal employee survey, with results very similar to those of the TBPA’s when it came to morale issues and concerns with management.

We welcome the frank and transparent comments of TBPSB member, Ms.Georjann Morriseau, and we agree with her and support her for bringing attention to the fact that significant action is needed to address the failings of the Chief and the Board to date.
 
We would support an independent investigation into some of the issues Ms. Morriseau raised and will be contacting the Ontario Civilian Police Commission independently to voice our concerns as well.

Despite the fact that the negative working conditions at the TBPS are back in the news, the Chief and Board seem content to focus on getting a new building approved and not on the very serious issues that are happening within. While the employees do need a new station, we need the issues inside fixed first.

Colin Woods is president of the Thunder Bay Police Association.

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