The embattled Thunder Bay Police Service has a new chief of police.
On Tuesday, the city’s equally troubled police services board, which is currently under the control of an appointed administrator, announced Darcy Fleury will take on the force’s top job.
Originally from Manitoba, Fleury is a member of the Manitoba Métis Federation where his father was a founding member.
In an interview with APTN News, Fleury said he knows there is a “well-documented history of negative impacts in the public” of the Thunder Bay police service but he hopes his “skills and knowledge can make a difference.”
Fleury says community engagement will be key for him and he intends to hit the ground running and meet with groups “to understand where some of the long-rooted hard feelings are and work together to find solutions.”
Fleury is currently the RCMP district commander for central Alberta. He’s been with the national force for 36 years. He has had postings in the Northwest Territories, Manitoba and Alberta.
Fleury will assume the role as chief designate on April 17 and will begin a one-month transition period with interim chief Dan Taddeo.
A change of command ceremony is planned for May 15, 2023.
“I am aware of the recent recommendations and reports that speak to needed change within the Service, and I will continue to reinforce and advance the work that is already underway,” Fleury said in a statement. “To move forward, we need to develop strong partnerships to manage crime and ensure the safety of all people in Thunder Bay.”
Thunder Bay’s former police chief, Sylvie Hauth, retired earlier this year. At the time, Hauth was under suspension and facing Police Services Act charges of discreditable conduct and deceit. Those charges were dismissed when she retired.
Earlier this month, the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC), extended the appointment of the administrator of the Thunder Bay police services board.
Malcolm Mercer has acted as the administrator since April 2022.
In a March 2023 report extending Mercer’s appointment, Sean Weir, chair of the OCPC wrote, “that a state of emergency continues to exist in the Board.”
The Thunder Bay police service has been mired in controversy for years with accusations of racism, incompetence and shoddy investigations when it comes to the deaths of First Nations peoples.
The police service and the board are also facing numerous human rights complaints from current and former officers and civilian employees.
Lawyer, Chantelle Bryson is representing fourteen TBPS Board members, officers and civilian employees and Indigenous public complainants.
“The current human rights complainants against the Thunder Bay Police Service and numerous senior officers welcome the appointment of the new Chief of Police,” Bryson wrote in an email to APTN News.
“We are also optimistic that the new Chief will want to resolve the current complaints to allow the TBPS to move forward with repairing its workplace and its Indigenous community relationship, to prevent further complaints and the underlying harms.”
Bryson said three new complaints were filed in recent weeks.
There have been calls for the police service to be disbanded.
Fleury says he knows those sentiments are out there but that he hopes down the road, his leadership style can change those attitudes.