In an unprecedented move, Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James has verbally asked two of his Assistants to proceed on immediate Vacation leave.
The two – Assistant Commissioners of Police, Dowlin Bartholomew and Smith Roberts – were requested by James and not as customary the Office of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to take their accumulated leave.
THE NEW TODAY has been reliable informed that the development took ACP Bartholomew in particular by surprise since he was due to proceed on leave on Monday (July 8) from the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).
A high-level police source told this newspaper that the Acting Commissioner might have committed a breach of protocol in the manner in which he instructed his two ACP’s to immediately take their vacation leave.
He said if the two senior police officers had accumulated the maximum 180 days leave then the Commissioner of Police is authorised to notify them and also advise them to contact the PSC with respect to their leave.
“There is no way that Winston James has the legal authority to send these officers on vacation leave. It can only be done by the PSC”, he added.
The senior officer suggested that ACPs Bartholomew and Roberts should seek proper legal advice to determine whether their constitutional rights were violated or not by Acting Commissioner James.
One police insider confided to this newspaper that ACP Bartholomew has contacted the island’s foremost constitutional legal expert, Dr. Francis Alexis for advise on the issue.
Bartholomew who gave 26 years of service to the RGPF was the Officer responsible for Crime in the force, while Roberts has the responsibility for Human Resource.
Another authoritative source told this newspaper that Bartholomew is very suspicious over the manner in which he was asked by Acting Commissioner James to take his leave one week earlier.
THE NEW TODAY spoke with him on Monday and he declined to offer any comment on the issue “at this point in time”.
However, a police insider said that ACP Bartholomew is being cautious about making any public statement and the most he is willing to say is that whatever the public need to know, they will know in time.
Like Bartholomew, when ACP Roberts was contacted, he too declined to make any public statement on the verbal instructions received from James to proceed on vacation leave.
Efforts made by this newspaper on three occasions to reach Acting Commissioner James for clarification on the issue proved futile.
When a call was made to his office on Monday afternoon, his Secretary who is a female Inspector of Police told our news desk that the Acting Commissioner of Police was at a meeting and that the paper should call back at 8:30 a.m. the following morning.
The call was made as requested and after waiting on the line for almost two minutes, the Secretary returned to say that the Police Chief cannot speak with the newspaper right now and that THE NEW TODAY should call back after lunch.
Just about 1:00 p.m. when the third call was made to the Commissioner’s Office, we were informed by the Secretary that the man occupying the seat as Chief Cop is at a meeting and she does not known when he will be available.
Speculation is rife that James was engaged in several meetings throughout the day with several high-ranking police officers to discuss among other things the filling of certain positions in light of the developments surrounding ACPs Bartholomew and Roberts.
At a press conference held by Acting Commissioner James just after being brought back to act as the Head of RGPF in the aftermath of the February 19 change of government, he said that he was looking forward to working with every member of the media.
“We must probe into allegations when we hear them to ascertain the truthfulness of those allegations before we move forward with them as anything factual,” the Acting Commissioner advised the media.
Police insiders view the move against Bartholomew and Roberts as being politically orchestrated.
There are unconfirmed reports that the two ACP’s will soon be replaced by two Superintendents of Police who are suspected to be loyalists of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and his governing New National Party (NNP).
Dr. Mitchell as Minister of National Security is responsible for the Police and has vowed to fully take charge of things himself and not take “licks” for the actions of any other person.
Since the change of government, and the return of James to lead the RGPF, a number of notable changes have taken place within the hierarchy of the police force.
Superintendent of Police, Michael Francois is now head of the Special Branch unit while the controversial former head of the unit under a previous NNP administration, Supt. Anthony De Gale is brought back on active duty after leaving the force in 2008 to migrate to the United States.
According to NNP insiders, De Gale who is currently occupying the post of Chief of the Administration Department is tipped to become Commissioner of Police at the end of James’ stint.
A police insider said that technically speaking, Supt De Gale is already occupying a position that should be held by an Assistant Commissioner of Police based on the new organisational structure of the force.
“So if it is the intention to make De Gale the Commissioner of Police as being whispered in some NNP quarters once James leave, then that is taking place because he (De Gale) is virtually occupying a position in the force that has to be supervised by an ACP”, he added.
There are unconfirmed reports that Supt. Francois was brought up to police head office on Fort George on Tuesday as a stand-in for ACP Bartholomew.