Deputy chief of Thunder Bay, Ont., police suspended pending internal investigation

The deputy chief of the Thunder Bay Police Service in northwestern Ontario has been suspended pending an internal investigation.

News of the suspension of Ryan Hughes came Friday afternoon in a media statement from Kristen Oliver, chair of the police services board.

“The board cannot comment further at this time as this is a human resources matter and await the outcome of the investigation,” said the brief statement.

It’s the latest turn in a series of events that have put the Thunder Bay police force and its board under public scrutiny.

Earlier this week, CBC News learned Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones had requested an external investigation into the chief, Sylvie Hauth, and deputy chief, as well as the administration of the police force.

Ontario police commission to investigate

A spokesperson confirmed Jones has asked the Ontario Civilian Police Commission to conduct the investigation, the second time in five years an investigation of the municipal police is being undertaken by the independent police oversight agency.

The solicitor general’s announcement came after the department was informed of a complaint filed to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario by police board member Georjann Morriseau.

The complaint alleges that during Morriseau’s time as a board member, she has faced discrimination and harassment because she’s Indigenous. She’s a former chief of the Ojibway First Nation of Fort William.

Thunder Bay-based lawyer Chantelle Bryson confirmed to CBC News she is representing another 10 officers and civilians who have or will soon be filing human rights complaints alleging a range of issues, including harassment and discrimination based on mental health, race and gender.

Those complaints name a range of respondents, including Hauth, Hughes, as well as the Thunder Bay Police Services Board.

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