Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr. Keith Mitchell has announced that the search is on for a new Commissioner of Police and also a new man to take charge of Her Majesty’s Prison at Richmond Hill in 2017.
The Prime Minister dropped the hint while wrapping up the debate of the 2017 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure in the House of Representatives last week Tuesday.
The current Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James who had retired in 2008 was brought back to head the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) on a month-to-month contract when the New National Party (NNP) won the 2013 general elections.
Dr. Mitchell made the move after he indicated that he was not comfortable with the then Acting Commissioner of Police Willan Thompson who was appointed under the previous administration.
Thompson was forced to quit, took study leave to pursue legal studies in England and upon completion was placed as Clerk of Parliament.
Dr. Mitchell informed the House that after listening to several persons who understand RGPF, it was agreed when he took office once again in 2013 that former Commissioner James should be brought back to head the force.
He said the decision was taken back then because it was felt that James could “bring some leadership, and of course to ensure that the Force grow from strength to strength” and the appointment “was supposed to be for a short period”.
According to PM Mitchell, both he and James have now agreed that the time has come for him to move out.
“He has agreed and understands, and the preparation for the new leadership is now taking place,” he told the Lower House.
Prime Minister Mitchell said the ruling New National Party (NNP) government believes it is now in a good position to move to the next leadership of the Force.
“The timing, I am not prepared to say, but he (James) and I have spoken about that specifically,” he said.
Dr. Mitchell indicated that one of the men under James’ leadership will have to accept the new post, and will be given an opportunity, not long from now, to show him along with the Acting Commissioner and the country that he has learnt and is ready to take the Force forward.
Speculation is rife that Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Edvin Martin is the most likely replacement.
Martin is known to have emerged as the second best candidate for the job when interviews were conducted for the post of Commissioner of Police under the 2008-13 Congress government of Tillman Thomas. The job was given to Thompson.
Prime Minister Mitchell also addressed the issue of a new Commissioner of Prisons to replace Ashley “Ram” Folkes who is quitting the job at the end of the year.
Folkes, a former soldier in the disbanded People’s Revolutionary Army (PRA), was also brought in by Dr. Mitchell after the 2013 poll as Commissioner of Prisons to take over from Superintendent of Police, Don McKenzie.
Folkes was quoted in another local newspaper as saying that he is now a U.S Green Card holder and had to spend at least 6 months every year inside the United States.
Dr. Mitchell told Parliament that he has also agreed with Folkes that it is the time for the prisons to move onto new leadership.
“He and I have also agreed that the new leadership should be in place not long from now,” he said.
The person who is tipped to take over at the prisons is Superintendent of Police, Trevor Modeste who is currently back at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) after a stint as an Assistant Commissioner of Police.
Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY that Modeste was interviewed sometime last week by a four-member panel that included former Commissioner of Police, Nesta Ogilvie for the post.
Dr. Mitchell told Parliament that he recognised that there is still a lot of work to be done at the prisons especially in the face of serious problems such as drugs and cell phones that continue to make their way into the hands of prison inmates.
Fingers are pointing at a number of rogue officers as persons who help inmates lay their hands on some of the illegal items.