by Wade Gibbons
Darwin Dottin has officially severed ties with the Royal Barbados Police Force.
Barbados TODAY investigations have revealed that on Tuesday the former Commissioner of Police, accompanied by a permanent secretary, presented himself at Police Headquarters where in keeping with established force protocols he officially handed over the reins of management of the force to new Commissioner of Police, Tyrone Griffith.
It marked the end of a nine-year reign as head of the organisation that culminated controversially in June when on the advice of the Police Service Commission he was sent on administrative leave by Governor General Sir Elliot Belgrave pending his recommended retirement from the public service.
Dottin, 63, challenged the decision of the Police Service Commission in the Supreme Court but Barbados TODAY understands that this challenge will be withdrawn.
Dottin’s troubles with the force’s governing body escalated after investigations into allegations of illegal wiretapping by the Royal Barbados Police Force were initiated by the Police Service Commission. In a document of its subsequent findings, which was served on Dottin and subsequently lodged in the Supreme Court, the PSC highlighted that probably for the first time Barbados found itself in a “dangerous and untenable” in relation to policing activity.
The PSC charged that there was “irrefutable evidence” that the force had been bugging the phones of several Barbadian citizens who were not known or suspected to be involved in any criminal activity.
The PSC said this action had made law-abiding citizens afraid to use their telephones. It was described as “disturbing” that much of the wiretapping activity seemed to be politically motivated. The PSC indicated that this activity compromised the integrity of communications of Government officials and was a threat to Barbados’ democratic way of life.
“We have reviewed the information in the possession of the commission surrounding the rampant reports of phone tapping. The information provides irrefutable evidence of illegal phone tapping, but also paints a picture of circular communications and an unwillingness of persons in authority to take responsibility for dealing with this matter,” the PSC document signed by commissioners Guyson Mayers, chairman, Miriam White, The Reverend Frank Marshall, Keith Whittaker and Neville Lewis stated, noting that in the absence of legal authority to tap people’s phones it was duty-bound to investigate and take action.
Two police officers directly involved in the wiretapping programme gave sworn evidence on the matter with one charging that part of the process was covered under the heading “political”. It was revealed that two of those bugged were security officers attached to and communicating with former Prime Minister Owen Arthur and current Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. The PSC noted that when the telephone of the driver and security officer of the Prime Minister could be tapped, it compromised his communications with that officer.
The court document also alleged that the phones of a number of senior police officers, magistrates and members of the PSC had also been tapped.
It is understood that Griffith, a former Harrisonian and University of the West Indies graduate, is to have Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Erwin Boyce elevated as his deputy commissioner. [email protected]