In the interest of returning stability to the Royal Barbados Police Force, a former attorney general has called on Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin to break his silence of the controversy now surrounding the promotion of officers.
Barbados Labour Party Shadow Minister of Home Affairs and St. Joseph Member of Parliament, Dale Marshall issued the call while describing the situation in which almost two dozen lawmen have gone to court to challenge their non-promotion, as a “disturbing developments”.
He said: “From the day after the election, the force became completely politicised, with breaches in the chain of command, tension between the Police Service Commission and the leadership of the force, resulting in such things as specious and preposterous charges being brought against the Commissioner.
“I call on the commissioner to break his silence on these matters. I imagine that he has kept his silence in the interest of the continued stability in the force, but the members of the force themselves, as well as the people of Barbados deserve an explanation of the goings on and rampant political interference with the force.
“We are therefore not surprised at the unprecedented recent turn of events. While we must express regret at the fact that officers now feel compelled to seek recourse to the judicial system, we sympathise with them as they too now must feel that the Police Service Commission must have gone mad. The root of this problem is that the … commission feels that they must now seek to wrestle the management of the force from the very capable hands of the commissioner and we have repeatedly warned of the destabilising effect that this will have on the running of the force.”
Marshall said in an official statement that the commissioner, under section 8 of the Police Act, is vested with the responsibility by the Governor General for the efficient administration and government of the force. Implicit in this responsibility, he added, is the right and obligation to see to the promotion of officers to various ranks within the force.
“Everyone will not find favour with those recommendations, but the fact is that the commissioner is the man on the spot. He manages the force on a daily basis and is best positioned to determine who should be promoted. I am aware as a former Attorney General that substantial consultations are done among the very senior ranks before the recommendations are submitted by the Commissioner.
“How then is it possible for the Police Service Commission to reject 21 of the commissioner’s 60 recommendations out of this last batch, unless they are also intending to send a message that they have no confidence in the judgment of the commissioner? That is full one-third of his recommendations that have been rejected.
“Equally, the most extra-ordinary double promotion also came from within the bosom of the commission! The Police Service Commission cannot and must not seek to impose their view on the management of the force on the commissioner. What is amazing is that one of the members is a practicing senior attorney; another is a long retired police officer.
“The members of the commission do not walk the beat or show up for work at any police station. How dare they seek to superimpose their view on who should or should not be promoted? And this is not the first time that the … commission has acted in this way since 2008! In the promotions immediately preceding this set, they did the same thing – they threw out many of the commissioner’s recommendations and substituted their own!
“We now have 15 officers who feel that they have been wrongly overlooked who have now brought their case to the High Court. And they are others who are equally aggrieved but who have not joined in this action. These individuals who have taken the bold step to seek redress in the court may as well look for new careers now, as no matter how this turns out in the force, there will be chaos and resentment.
“I have reserved any comment on the merits of the case, but it is obvious that if they win the case, then a further pall is cast over the promotions that have been made, as the public at large will rightly question, if a particular officer was promoted on the merits and the officers whose promotions will be in doubt will resent their actions; if they lose the case, then they will be perceived negatively by those whose promotions would have been overturned. It is highly doubtful if these officers, who are among the finest and most experienced in the force, will be able to continue to work with their accustomed passion and commitment.
“In all the circumstances, we must, and do call for the immediate resignation or dismissal of this Police Service Commission. The way in which they are carrying out their statutory responsibilities is unprecedented and must call into question their motives. This must not be allowed to continue!
“A stable police force makes for a stable country. What this commission is doing does not promote stability within the force. That must be their paramount duty and in this, they have failed atrociously!
“This obvious attempt to politicise the force must stop. In this regard, Barbadians must also signal that they will not tolerate this improper intrusion into the workings of the police force. The region already knows what it is to have weakened police forces fighting to stem crime generally, and specifically, the effects of the trade in illegal drugs. Barbados must not be allowed to follow suit.
“This state of affairs is symptomatic of the decline in proper governance of our institutions since this administration came to power.
“In the 14 years that we formed the Government, we presided over a police force that was stable and we, during that time, left no stone unturned to secure their working conditions, improved remuneration. Instead of weakening it, it was strengthened beyond compare.
“The Opposition and all right thinking Barbadians require and demand an end to this political tyranny within the Royal Barbados Police Force,” Marshall said.
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