Barbados’ Attorney General Dale Marshall has conceded that the appointment of a second Deputy Commissioner of Police is not provided for in the current legislation. But, he says, the changes to the Police Act will be made to correct this “regretted” state of affairs.
The AG’s comments came today in a press statement in which he admitted that the position of Oral Williams as the second deputy to Commissioner Tyrone Griffith was confirmed in contravention of the relevant law. His statement came as public debate heats up over the controversial appointment, stoked by comments last week from Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn who questioned the need for both deputies.
After telling reporters last week he did not want to get engaged in a tit-for-tat with the outspoken senator and trade union leader, Marshall is now addressing the issue.
In the statement, the Attorney General said the post of a second deputy had been created since May 19 last year when Oral Williams was appointed to act and confirmed on March 15 this year by the Protective Services Commission, but without the required changes to the Police Act.
Franklyn had been contending that the Act speaks only of a single deputy commissioner of police and that the appointment of a second deputy would require an amendment to the legislation.
The AG, the Government’s principal legal advisor, is now publicly agreeing with Franklyn’s argument.
“We take note that the Police Act only speaks to a single Deputy Commissioner of Police and it is therefore to be regretted that the required amendment did not take place in advance of this confirmation,” Marshall said in his statement.
He is therefore promising to have the matter fixed as soon as possible.
“I give Barbadians the assurance that once the strictures of COVID-19 allow us the space to resume sittings of Parliament, the necessary amendment will be made to the Police Act to give full effect to this decision,” the Attorney General announced.
He contended, though, that none of this takes away from the necessity for the post “as we work to improve the management of the force or the fact that Mr Williams is qualified for, and deserving of the position.”
Marshall said this is in essence just one in a number of steps that will be taken to bring the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) in line with modern police management structures.
“DCOP Williams is qualified and eminently suited for the post as well as the responsibilities that come with it, especially given the fact that previously, he had performed with distinction, while acting as deputy commissioner,” he declared.
The Attorney General was at pains to point out that the decision to create a second position of deputy did not result from any whimsical or capricious approach as some would wish to suggest.
He insisted that it instead followed robust and extensive consideration of the impact of the criminal element on the society, predating his Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) election to Government.
“The Barbados Labour Party Government was convinced then and remains convinced today that efforts to reduce crime will not have the desired effect if the modernization of the management of the Royal Barbados Police Force is not an integral part of the exercise,” he stated.
“Consequently, as a critical part of that process, we determined that the best interest of the country would be served by having a Deputy Commissioner of Police with direct responsibility for Administration and Human Resources matters and another deputy with direct responsibility for operations,” explained the minister responsible for the police.
He said that Williams has responsibility for Administration and Human Resources and his colleague Deputy Commissioner Erwin Boyce is in charge of Operations.
Marshall took the opportunity to praise the men and women of the force who have been holding a most pivotal role on the frontline of the national fight to combat COVID-19 for the past two months.
He said their good work has made the difference in allowing the health professionals to execute the strategies that have permitted the country to flatten the curve.
“Barbadians have been able to sleep soundly at night because you were on the beat. And property owners had absolutely no need to panic because your presence was reassuring. You have my undying gratitude and I am sure that of a grateful nation,” the AG concluded.
Meanwhile, the senior police officer whose contentious appointment has drawn much attention to him has been having his say on the matter.
Approached for comment by Barbados TODAY Williams said: “Nothing that has been printed or said is bothering me. I am fine.” [email protected]
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