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TBPS Chief Darcy Fleury

July 2024

The Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) serves Thunder Bay and Oliver Paipoonge, with a recorded population of around 117,000. Various reports suggest the ‘true’ population is closer to 150,000. This impacts the types and numbers of crimes driving calls for service. A close comparator is Kingston, Ontario, with a population of just over 130,000.

On June 20, 2024, Kingston Police Service had 134 calls for service. The same day, TBPS had 164 calls for service. TBPS had a total of 4,393 calls in June – an average of 146.4 calls per day. 

While homelessness does have an impact on calls for service, we also take a proactive approach to addressing root causes. Our Community Oriented Response and Engagement (CORE) Unit works with agencies and organizations to support safety and connect people with services. CORE Officers often engage with vulnerable citizens in our community, including attending areas of encampments. With a shortage of affordable, accessible housing, some people choose to live in encampments, where they often find a sense of community and security. As per City Council’s human rights-based approach to encampments, service providers can and do give out food, supplies and housing applications to those living in encampments. The role of police is to focus on public safety, rather than eviction. Evictions will occur when there is criminality or danger to the public. Otherwise, our role is mainly to respond to reports of violence and supporting emergency services partners as they respond.

Investigation leads to global impact

In 2019 our Major Crime Unit began an investigation into fraudulent art of famed Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau. It expanded into a three-year long joint investigation with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and became one of the largest art fraud investigations in Canadian history. Last month, another accused person pled guilty to their involvement in the fraud, admitting to the creation of thousands of fake Morrisseau works since 1996. 

Cory Dingle, the Executive Director of the Morrisseau estate notes the impact of this investigation. Morrisseau’s success gave other Indigenous people the courage to pursue their dreams. Canada learned about its history through Morrisseau’s art. Fraudulent reproductions put that and more at risk for all Canadians, because galleries around the world could not risk showing/owning fakes. “If one of the greatest Canadian art icons can get defrauded and there is no justice, what chance do other Canadian artists have? The investigation led to consequences and restored faith,” Dingle said.

I am proud of the commitment and dedication from lead investigators Staff Sergeant Jason Rybak, Sergeant Kevin Bradley, and Constable Jodi Dow (now with OPP) as well as members of the Major Crimes Unit, Forensic Identification Services, the Break and Enter and Robbery (BEAR) Unit, and all other members who assisted in this historical investigation. There will be more to come as the process unfolds. In the meantime, I encourage anyone interested to read about the case in Smithsonian Magazine:

Read previous messages:
June 2024
May 2024
April 2024
March 2024