Thunder Bay police chief suspended effective immediately due to 'serious allegations'
Hauth facing PSA hearings over misconduct allegations
Thunder Bay's city police chief, who's facing Police Services Act hearings over allegations of misconduct, has been suspended.
The Thunder Bay Police Services Board made the announcement late Tuesday afternoon, saying Sylvie Hauth has been suspended effective immediately and comes "as a result of the serious allegations brought forward by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC), pending the outcome of that process."
Acting Deputy Chief Dan Taddeo will assume the role of chief.
No further information was provided.
The announcement came hours after the police services board decided to move forward with replacing Hauth, who last Thursday had said she intends to retire after her current contract is up next June. The OCPC announced it was moving forward with misconduct hearings later the same day.
In its announcement, the OCPC said the hearings pertain to three allegations against Hauth:
- That she failed to take the appropriate steps to address allegations against Deputy Chief Ryan Hughes.
- That she provided misinformation about that investigation to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board.
- That she failed to take the appropriate steps to address allegations of wrongdoing about other members of the Thunder Bay police.
None of the allegations have been proven in legal proceedings.
During Tuesday morning's police board meeting meeting, board administrator Malcolm Mercer agreed with a proposal to hire Odgers-Berndtson Executive Search Firm at a cost of $45,000. The consultant — which a report to the board states was involved in the recruitment of the city's last three chiefs of police, and two city manager searches — will help evaluate candidates for the board, with a goal of having a new chief hired by December.
The final decision of who to hire as chief, however, rests with the board.
Hauth was not present at Tuesday's meeting, and the board did not discuss the OCPC hearings, or the allegations against her, in open session.
There was some disagreement with Tuesday's board decision.
Board member Georjann Morriseau said she didn't agree with a sole-source approach, and would instead have preferred to see a request for proposal that would allow other consultants to submit bids.
However, it was noted during the meeting that doing so would delay the process by at least three or four months, as it would take that long to hire a consultant, said board secretary John Hannam.
That, Hannam said, "runs the risk of not having a replacement in place prior to the retirement date."
There was also some concern expressed by board members, who suggested that discussions about the retirement process itself should happen in closed session, due to the allegations against Hauth.
However, Hannam said the hiring of the consultant itself needs to take place in open session.
"Certainly, the direction that we would give to the vendor is something that we may be discussing in closed session," Hannam said.
Board members Shelby Ch'ng — who was sworn in as the board's newest member earlier Tuesday — and Bill Mauro were both in favour of the recommendation as tabled.
However, since the board is currently under the oversight of an administrator, Mercer had the only actual vote.
"It seems to me there are three things at issue here," Mercer said. "One is price. The other is time. And the third is quality."
"Time works against going out for tender," he said. "It's clear we have a timeline that we want to move promptly on. In terms of price, the price that is on the table is $45,000. It may be that a competitive process could lower that, but in terms of the amount it's likely to lower it, it's going to be penny wise, pound foolish in terms of the ultimate timeline."
"And it seems to me that the only issue of concern to me is quality," Mercer said. "My inclination is that we have a competent organization that can probably most properly provide the service."