The decision to place three senior police officers on leave was not politically motivated, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames insisted yesterday.
Deputy Commissioner Emrick Seymour, Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dean and Assistant Commissioner Clarence Reckley have been asked to take many weeks of accumulated vacation and are expected to retire at the end of their leave.
Reckley is the husband of former Urban Renewal Deputy Director Michelle Reckley, who was charged in a Nassau court on February 14 with defrauding the government of over $1.2 million through the Small Homes Repair Programme on Grand Bahama.
Opposition leader Philip Brave Davis raised the issue of Reckley being placed on leave when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday. He has previously identified Michelle Reckley as a Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporter.
Davis accused the government of victimizing Clarence Recklely.
The Office of the Prime Minister in a statement on Tuesday said the senior officers were “informed to proceed on accumulated vacation leave with the option to start retirement leave at the end of their leave periods”.
Dames decried the opposition’s accusations of victimization.
“There is nothing personal here, and for the opposition to even make that assumption is very disingenuous because they left the service in an absolute mess,” he said.
He added, “This has nothing to do with politics, and we will continue this process.
“We are transforming these agencies.”
The minister said many officers have accumulated too much vacation and that the three senior officers were also at the age of retirement.
“We have some persons certainly within the service, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, with close to two years’ leave,” he said.
“You are only allowed to keep up to 15 weeks.”
Dames, himself a former deputy commissioner, said he spoke with Seymour and Dean yesterday morning, and claimed they were “extremely happy”.
“We had a very cordial conversation this morning,” he said.
“They are my friends. They all are, but this is what is called the transforming of an agency.
“You come in. You serve. You reach that point of retirement. You prepare the officers under you to take over, and this is what it’s all about.”
However, Dames said he was not able to speak with Reckley on the matter, but noted that his door is “open to everybody”.
He continued, “We in this country, and it’s a government responsibility, have to do a better job in preparing our people for retirement. There’s nothing wrong with that.
“These organizations and agencies will be around long after we would have gone, and it would be a tremendous disservice if we would have not prepared the persons behind us for leadership.”
A police force manpower audit, which was tabled in the House of Assembly last May, revealed that the senior command of the force was too top-heavy.
Dames referenced the audit yesterday.
“Look at the manpower audit,” he said.
“Look at the mess the PLP would have left. We have an obligation as government to get our agencies of government and our ministries of government in line.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish