Thunder Bay

Police act proceedings against Thunder Bay officer over online comments to start Friday

A Thunder Bay police officer, charged with discreditable conduct over Facebook comments made last year that the force deemed "not acceptable," will see Police Services Act proceedings against him start on Friday.

Cst. Rob Steudle charged with discreditable conduct over Facebook comments about Indigenous community

Police Services Act proceedings are scheduled to start Friday for a Thunder Bay police officer charged with discreditable conduct. (CBC)

A Thunder Bay police officer, charged with discreditable conduct over Facebook comments made last year that the force deemed "not acceptable," will see Police Services Act proceedings against him start on Friday.

The charge against Cst. Rob Steudle is in relation to comments made in September, 2016 about the Indigenous community. They were posted in response to a letter to the editor, penned by Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, in the local newspaper.

Fiddler's letter criticized the police response to reported conduct by officers during a race relations training course in 2016.

Steudle's comments that "Natives are killing Natives and it's the white man's fault," among other things, was in response to a post on the local paper's Facebook page.

Thunder Bay police subsequently launched an internal investigation; the probe was then handed over to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) in October, 2016. At the time, police said the request to the police watchdog to take over the investigation was to ensure public confidence and transparency.
Thunder Bay police say this is the Facebook post that prompted their internal investigation. (Facebook)

Based on the OIPRD's investigation — which was separate from an ongoing systemic review of the city's police service — the agency subsequently directed Thunder Bay police to hold a hearing into the matter. The scheduled Nov. 3 appearance is the first step in that process.

Steudle was initially suspended but returned to work on administrative duties in December, 2016. It is unclear whether that is still the case. A police spokesperson would only say that Steudle is not currently suspended.

When asked for comment by CBC News about the Police Services Act charge, a spokesperson for Nishnawbe Aski Nation said the organization "respectfully decline[s]."

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