In the face of moves afoot to unseat him, Commissioner of Police, Willan Thompson will be proceeding on 257 days leave from the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) with effect from Monday.
The decision comes as newly elected Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. Keith Mitchell is moving quickly to consolidate power for his New National Party (NNP), which won all fifteen seats in the just-ended general elections.
According to well-placed sources, Dr. Mitchell had sent signals to some of the top law enforcement officers in the country including Commissioner Thompson that it will not be business as usual.
A high-level source said that the island’s chief cop held discussions with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to discuss his options in light of statements from the new Grenadian leader that he was not comfortable with him occupying the chair of Chief Security Officer for the State.
Thompson is said to have opted for early retirement and the payment of a hefty compensation package that could cost the taxpayers of the country just over half-a-million dollars for his early removal from duties.
The source said that this was turned down with an alternative position advanced for Commissioner Thompson to be transferred to a post within the Public Service in keeping with his grade as a high-level public officer.
He disclosed that the Police Chief plans to hand over the running of RGPF sometime on Monday to Deputy Commissioner of Police, Frank Redhead who is due back today (Friday) on duties from sick leave after injuring himself in a freak gun-firing incident.
He pointed out that if Redhead is not available then Commissioner Thompson will hand over the force to Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Dowlin Bartholomew who is next in line in the RGPG hierarchy.
The source said that the Commissioner had telephoned Dr. Mitchell shortly after he lead the NNP to its sweeping 15-0 victory against Congress in the February 19 general elections.
He spoke of Dr. Mitchell then inviting the Chief Cop to visit his private residence at Happy Hill for discussions pertaining to the police force.
He said that during the discussions, the Grenadian leader raised certain specific concerns that he had with respect to Thompson’s leadership of RGPF.
During his earlier stint as Prime Minister, Dr. Mitchell as the Minister of National Security had removed Thompson along with former Commissioner of Police, Fitzroy Bedeau and other high-ranking officers like ACP Maurice Darius from the force in the aftermath of widespread criticisms of the performance of the force during the passage of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.
Thompson who is pursuing studies to become a qualified barrister-at-law was brought back into the force when the Tillman Thomas-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) came to power in the July 2008 general elections.
On Monday, Dr. Mitchell told reporters at a press briefing at the Botanical Gardens that he had concerns with the process used by the PSC to appoint Thompson as head of RGPF.
During the Happy Hill meeting, Prime Minister Mitchell openly expressed displeasure over some of the recent actions taken by Commissioner Thompson including the promotion of several officers in the lead up to the February 19 general elections.
Other issues raised included the failure of the police to recover the missing computer from the Parliamentary Elections Office, the failure of Commissioner to provide Dr. Mitchell as Leader of the Opposition with police security for his protection and allegations of telephone tapping by the State against certain persons in the country.
The Prime Minister later told reporters at a press conference on Monday that as Minister of National Security he had to work with someone whom he can trust with the security of the State.
Although Commissioner Thompson was not reached for comment on the moves in train to remove him as head of the force, a police insider said that he has always considered himself to be “a professional” person on the job.
The Commissioner has reportedly contacted the island’s leading constitutional lawyer, Dr. Francis Alexis for legal advice.
Dr. Alexis, a former Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney-General had successfully represented top civil servant Richard Duncan who had taken legal action against a previous Mitchell government over his removal from the post of Accountant-General in 1995.
The source also said that Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Inspector Senneth Joseph will replaced by the new government as they move quickly to take charge of the nation’s affairs.
He spoke of a party of police officers visiting Joseph’s home at the Botanical Gardens within days of the election to request the handing over of all keys for his office at the Financial Complex on the Carenage.
It is not clear whether it was Commissioner Thompson or another person who had dispatched the police party to Joseph’s home.
The FIU head was the person spearheading investigations started by the Congress government into several activities of the former Mitchell government including financial transactions involving a Russian company seeking to engage in oil and gas exploration in Grenadian waters.
NNP executive member, Cletus St. Paul who is the former Chief bodyguard to late Marxist leader, Maurice Bishop, has been spotted in and around the Ministerial Complex at the Botanical Gardens seemingly in command of the Security operations around the building.
As part of the move to consolidate the NNP election victory, Prime Minister Mitchell also held talks with some of the Permanent Secretaries in charge of the various government ministries and departments.
The source said that meetings were held with Cabinet Secretary Gemma Bain-Thomas, as well as Veda Bruno-Victor, Ann Isaac and Nadica Mc Intyre.
One Permanent Secretary who will not be returning to work is Sandra Thomas, the wife of former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas. She held the post of PS in the Ministry of Social Development.
A source close to Thomas said that the wife of the Congress Leader has written to the Public Service Commission (PSC) indicating her decision to retire from the service after giving in excess of 30 years of service.
Dr. Mitchell has already announced that his Cabinet ministers will take the oath of office on Sunday at a public session to be held at the National Stadium at Queen’s Park.
Details are very sketchy about the combination of the new Cabinet of Ministers, but the new Prime Minister announced that it will be much smaller than that of the former Thomas-led administration but that all 15 elected MP’s will be getting the same salaries.