THE MIDWEEK TODAY has already commented on the case of fraud brought against a Sergeant of Police clearly at the behest of Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James.
This case is of sufficient public interest that THE NEW TODAY, which is our major paper has no other choice but to look further into the unfortunate case of Sgt. Peters.
It is our humble opinion that Acting Commissioner James has demonstrated very unethical behaviour and applied double standards as the officer in charge of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).
The media have a right to question James’ suitability for the top job in the police force.
The story behind Sgt. Peters who left the state to pursue studies first in Cuba and then North America after getting study leave with pay has been well ventilated in the public domain.
The records will show that the police officer returned to the State during the 2008-13 reign of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Tillman Thomas when Willan Thompson was sitting in the Chair of Commissioner of Police.
Mr. Peters applied to be re-instated as a Police Officer and his case was referred to Government’s Legal Department for an opinion since there was an allegation that this former police officer had been collecting a monthly salary while working in North America.
This newspaper understands that the legal opinion rendered was that Sgt. Peters should not be rehired and he was told so by then Commissioner Thompson.
However, with the change of government in 2013 and the return of Mr. James as Acting Commissioner of Police, he re-instated Sgt. Peters into the force.
This newspaper calls on Mr. James to come clean and tell the nation whether he was aware or not of the situation involving Sgt. Peters when he took the decision to allow him to be brought back into active duties.
When Mr. James took him back, did he as the Acting Commissioner make any attempt to put Sgt. Peters on a repayment plan to pay back the State for monies owed to the Treasury?
The two have now fallen out and Mr. James, in what can only be described as a vulgar, ugly and naked demonstration of abuse of power, has decided to issue a deadly blow against Sgt. Peters.
Apparently, there was nothing wrong until Sgt. Peters upset Mr. James when he took over as Head of the Police Welfare Association (PWA) and challenged the COP’s authority on the issue of study leave for three officers who were denied study leave to attend St. George’s University.
THE NEW TODAY is forced to ask not only Mr. James but the powers-that-be to answer the following questions in the public’s interest since they have bearings on the operations of the public service.
(1) What are the conditions for study leave in the public service?
(2) How many years a public officer has to work before he/she can get study leave? It used to be five years in the past – and has this changed?
(3) Do you have to be appointed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to get study leave with pay? Are the leave conditions the same for Police officers, teachers and nurses?
(4) What was the study leave condition for Sgt. Peters? How much money was he over paid?
The questions are relevant when one looks at a recent statement made by Education Minister, Anthony Boatswain when he announced that some teachers were over paid.
The question that naturally follows is- how many teachers were over paid and how many are repaying? What steps have been taken to recover these outstanding payments? How much money has the government been able to recover from these teachers?
In light of the charges brought against Sgt. Peters, THE NEW TODAY would like an answer to this additional question – how much monies are owed to government from overpayment generally. It is understood that some persons owe up to $96,000.
The issue of over-payment of officers is not a new problem within the Public Service and officers who are overpaid are usually asked to pay back the money.
Therefore, Mr. James and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell who is the Minister of National Security and responsible for the police – how many persons have been charged to date for being overpaid?
Is it true that Imanis who were overpaid are also repaying?
What steps are government taking to close that loophole in the system?
Is Mr. James sending a message to the rest of the force that you can commit acts of wrong-doing and be safe with him as long as you behave yourself accordingly?
Mr. James is fully aware of the Peters situation, did nothing in the past to press charges but is now prepared to take him to the cleaners all because the two have now fallen out on matters related to the running of the Police Welfare Association.
Shame, shame, shame on Acting Commissioner James for throwing this revengeful and low blow.