We want answers
The Police Service Commission has decided that Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin “should be required to retire in the public interest” within the next three weeks.
But the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, which today said it was “alarmed” that the veteran lawman was “placed on administrative leave” effective yesterday and whose leader objected to the recent appointment of current PSC Chairman Guyson Mayers, linked Dottin’s departure to “political interference”.
Shadow Attorney General Dale Marshall, also demanded answers from Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Attorney General Freundel Stuart, saying signs of trouble “were always in the background”.
News of the action against the commissioner broke last night and was the subject of extensive discussion throughout the day.
The details of him being placed on administrative leave emerged today in related correspondence sent to him yesterday by Mayers in his capacity as PSC chairman, and in which the official stated there were “statements and other evidence” considered in reaching the decision.
“I write to inform you that His Excellence, Sir Elliott Fitzroy Belgrave, Governor General of Barbados, has been advised by the Police Service Commission to exercise the power conferred upon him by section 11 (1) of the Pensions Act, Cap. 25, and requested that you, in the public interest, be retired from the office of Commissioner of Police,” the two-page letter dated June 17, 2013 stated.
“His Excellency directed the Police Service Commission to provide you with copies of all statements and other evidence which was considered by the Police Service Commission in reaching its decision that you should be required to retire in the public interest, within 21 days of today’s date, 17 June, 2013.
“His Excellency has further advised that within 28 days thereafter, you may provide him with any statement or other evidence or document which, in your opinion, will cast doubt on, or completely rebut the case presented to His Excellency by the Police Service Commission and which is capable of showing that His Excellency should not act on the advice of the Police Service Commission, that you should be retired from the office of Commissioner of Police,” it added.
Mayers letter also said Sir Clifford would make a decision on Dottin’s retirement when he was “fully satisfied that all of the rules of natural justice as they apply in your case have been satisfied”, and told Dottin that the Governor General had chosen Assistant Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith to act as commissioner “until further notice” on the advice of the PSC after consultation with the Prime Minister.
Reacting to these developments this afternoon during a Press conference at the Opposition’s Office at Parliament, Marshall said it was “passing strange that the statutory basis for (Dottin’s) proposed separation from the force is simply related to age under the Pensions Act; and not to dereliction of duty or any failings in the performance of his duties under the Police Act”.
“It is intended that Commissioner Dottin be separated from the force only on the basis of him having attained the age of 55, which age he reached seven or eight long years ago,” the former Attorney General said.
“How is a separation from the force, based on reaching the age of 55 capable of being done ‘in the public interest’? This kind of reasoning is an insult to all Barbadians, and the irony is that we are today debating in Parliament a White Paper on Aging.
“Is this some kind of poorly camouflaged disciplinary proceeding against the Commissioner of Police, especially since on the last occasion when such was attempted a few years ago, the charges clearly did not even get off the ground,” he asked.
Marshall also had a number of questions for the PSC:
* When will the Prime Minister come and address the country on this turn of events that is unprecedented in the history of independent Barbados, in as much as he was consulted on the appointment of the replacement of Commissioner Dottin?
* Why has the Police Service Commission after consultation with the Prime Minister chosen an officer to act as Commissioner of Police who is junior to other senior officers and who did not apply for the vacant post of Deputy Commissioner of Police?
* On what basis can the Police Service Commission seek to fill the post of deputy when the rank and seniority of at least four of the applicants for this post may be affected by the case that is currently pending before the High Court?
* Why has the Police Service Commission only met with the Commissioner of Police once in five and a half years?
* Is this failure to meet with the commissioner not the underlying reason for the large number of problems that the force has experienced in recent years?
* Will this lack of communication with the one person at law responsible for the command and superintendence of the force continue or will they suddenly recognise their duty to work hand in glove with the commissioner?
* Why does this administration refuse to focus on the real needs of the police force? (SC)