A Thunder Bay police officer has been charged with two counts of assault, breach of trust and obstruction of justice following an investigation that lasted about two years.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) released news of the charges against Staff Sgt. Mike Dimini on Wednesday afternoon. The investigation focused on incidents that allegedly occurred in August 2014, October 2016 and November 2020.
Dimini has been released from custody and is set to appear in court in January.
In April 2022, four sources told CBC News that they'd been interviewed by the OPP during its investigation into Dimini's conduct.
Alleged misconduct by Dimini was also laid out in human rights complaints filed to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
In late 2021, Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General requested OPP investigate allegations of misconduct within the Thunder Bay Police Service amid a number of human rights complaints and allegations of misconduct by police officers and members of the public.
Dimini is now on leave as required by the Police Services Act. The service is fully co-operating with investigators, said a statement issued Wednesday by the Thunder Bay Police Service following the OPP's announcement.
"The Thunder Bay Police Service is aware that an officer has been arrested as part of an ongoing OPP investigation," the release said. "While the charges announced today are deeply concerning, the matter is now before the courts.
"Maintaining public confidence and transforming the culture within the service is our top priority. We remain focused on enhancing public safety, serving with integrity, and building trust with the communities we serve," it said.
The Thunder Bay Police Service has faced a number of scathing reviews and reports over the past decade from various oversight bodies, said Michael Kempa, an associate professor of criminology at the University of Ottawa who has been following the developments with policing in Thunder Bay closely.
"These charges are very serious," Kempa said, about Wednesday's charges against Dimini. "I would see it as part of the ongoing movement to crack down on any forms of corruption, racism, [and] inappropriate policing in Thunder Bay police."
Kempa noted that the charges against Dimini have not been proven in court, but said the fact the OPP felt that it could bring charges is, on its own, a serious development.
Over the past two years, the service and its oversight board have faced turmoil and controversy. These include:
The creation of an expert panel that produced a 200-page report earlier this year aimed at addressing the erosion of trust and police morale.
In 2023, the police service hired a new chief. Darcy Fleury has committed to reform, and reconstituted its oversight board with new members, though it remains under provincial administration until at least next spring.
Kempa said, in his view, the province is taking its oversight role of policing in Thunder Bay seriously, after having to appoint provincial administrators to oversee the Thunder Bay Police Services Board twice in the past decade.
"If there is another collapse, it's very likely that the only option remaining to the province would be to disband the Thunder Bay Police Service, the Thunder Bay Police oversight board," Kempa said.
"They certainly don't want to do that," he said. "Therefore it is all [provincial] agencies' priority ... to ensure that the rot is rooted out and the best police officers are allowed to continue on."2023-12-06T21:36:29Z dg43tfdfdgfd