Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell has been called upon in his capacity as Minister of National Security to address the issue of what has been labeled as the malicious and unfair transfer of some officers within the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).
Caretaker for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Ali Dowden issued the call last week Wednesday as he questioned the transfer of Sergeant Adrian Peters, who is attached to the RGPF Police Training School, which is located on the compound of the Special Services Unit (SSU) at Point Salines, St. George.
“We ask the Minister for National Security to speak out on this matter and to take the corrective steps and measures to solve the problem that is now taking place within the RGPF,” Dowden said as he addressed the issue last week Wednesday, during the weekly NDC press conference at NDC headquarters in St. George’s.
Sgt. Peters was removed from the Training School with effect from February 9, days after he spoke out publicly against the decision of Acting Commissioner of Police, Winston James to deny three police officers leave to take up studies at St. George’s University (SGU).
According to Dowden, who is the Congress Caretaker for the St. George North-west constituency of Prime Minister Mitchell, the main opposition party is concerned over the unfolding events in the police force.
“…What message is the RGPF sending out (to) the public and the officers within the Force…what is the reason for moving the only trained educator in the Police School to the Grenville Police Station at this point in time, as soon as he came out in the media and spoke out in defense of the three police officers looking to go out and study,” he told reporters.
Pointing to Peter’s credibility, Dowden said: “This gentleman not only developed programmes for the Royal Grenada Police Force, but has also been working along with the Regional Security System (RSS) developing training programmes.”
He charged that Sgt. Peters’ transfer was done in an act out of “spite and victimisation.”
There has been no official comment from the Police High Command on the issue.
Dowden said he had information from ‘”a well placed source” that when Sgt. Peters went to take up his new posting “there was absolutely nothing to do.”
“He was given a desk and told to sit there and he will be a part of the team…if this is not spite and victimisation happening within the Force I ask you what else is it? He asked.
Sgt. Peters, who is also the Chairman of the Police Welfare Association, reportedly stated that since the officers were remaining on island their studies would not affect their jobs.
However, information has been circulating that Commissioner James did not grant study leave to the officers because they did not go through the right process in obtaining the scholarship.
Dowden described this as a “lame excuse” expressing the view “whether the officers went through the right channels to get permission or not, the point remains that they got the scholarship and the force needs this sort of training in psychology to handle the issues that are affecting this country at this present time.”
“They can study and work as all other officers, even as the son of the Commissioner of Police, who remained here and studied at the SGU and also continued to do his work at the Fort,” he said.
“It is my understanding that the son of the Commissioner of Police (recently completed studies at SGU and) is presently on a government scholarship over in China doing his Masters,” he added.
Dowden painted a picture of favouritism within RGPF.
“So here it is, you have the son of Commissioner James getting to move up the ladder in terms of his educational pursuits and you have many officers who have not had the opportunity to do their first degree as yet, who want to go and study Psychology, and these three officers did not get the (Commissioners’) approval to go on to study even though they already got through with the scholarship”, he told reporters.
The NDC Executive member stressed that having qualified persons in the field of Psychology “is only going to rebound to the benefit of the Force in addressing the many challenges being faced today.”
Dowden spoke of another “young (Police) Constable, who has served the Force for over 18 years, trained many other younger officers that came under his watch and to date has not even received a promotion”.
“He is attending SGU and is always being transferred from one part of the island to the next, making it extremely difficult for him to attend classes.
“The officer had to purchase a vehicle so that he can travel from all the way in Grenville at times to get to SGU even though he is actually staying in St George’s.
“I ask you if that is not spite and victimisation happening within the RGPF what else. There is a tense atmosphere taking place within the RGPF and that it is a national security concern for the NDC and for Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.”
According to Dowden, “within the past three years 1500 transfers took place within the RGPF, which is only made up of just over 900 police officers.”
“It seems that the tools being used in the RGPF are one of transfer or no promotion as a means of silencing officers within the force,” he added.
The Congress Caretaker disclosed that NDC as a party believes that police officers “must be promoted based on merit and not loyalty to the political directorate of the day”, adding that, “we remain grounded and steadfast in this belief.”
Dowden sent a clear message to police officers that “the NDC stands firm in solidarity with them.”
“I want to reassure them that a better day is coming very soon when the NDC will once again resume the office of governance in this country. And police officers can be assured that promotions will take place based on merit and not on loyalty to the political directorate,” he remarked.