THUNDER BAY — Ontario Provincial Police are now conducting a criminal investigation into the actions of members of the Thunder Bay Police Service.
OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson confirmed the investigation Tuesday, saying it's the result of a request made by the Ministry of the Attorney General in December 2021.
In a brief statement, Dickson said the OPP Criminal Investigations Branch has been assigned "to ensure a complete, thorough and independent investigation into allegations related to members of the Thunder Bay Police Service."
The statement did not identify the subjects of the probe.
Dickson said it would be inappropriate to comment on specific details in order to protect the integrity of the investigation and any ensuing court processes.
He also declined to speculate on how long it will take to complete the investigation.
Dickson clarified that the OPP investigation is not connected to one being conducted by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.
That inquiry was announced earlier this month, and was instigated at the request of Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
She had asked the OCPC to investigate the conduct of TBPS leadership including Chief Sylvie Hauth and Deputy Chief Ryan Hughes.
The Thunder Bay Police Services Board announced in January that Hughes was suspended pending an internal TBPS investigation.
Jones had stated in a letter reviewed by TBNewswatch that her call for an OCPC probe was based on concerns raised in numerous applications to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal in recent months by TB Police Services Board member Georgjann Morriseau, current and former officers, and civilian staff.
A spokesperson for the Thunder Bay Police Service issued a short statement responding to Tuesday's announcement by the OPP.
Chris Adams said: "We expect that any member of the TBPS would co-operate fully with an investigation by the OPP. Since an investigation is underway, we will not comment further in the interest of due process."
Thunder Bay Police Services Board Chair Kristen Oliver said in a statement that board is "concerned to hear of the investigation" but is respectful of the process the OPP is engaged in.
She added, however, that the board is very concerned that individual members of the police service have had their names "publicly attached to this matter, by third parties, in a way that is damaging to them and contrary to the confidentiality that the Police Services Act requires."
Oliver also said the board is not suspending Chief Hauth, and will not do so unless and until there are objective findings that would lead to such a decision.
NOTE: This story has been updated to include a statement provided by TB Police Services Board Chair Kristen Oliver