Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis recently brushed aside concerns that the decision to place eight senior officers on leave was politically motivated and insisted he has confidence that Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson will effectively reorganize the top brass of the police force.
Minnis spoke to reporters at Lynden Pindling International Airport on Saturday following a trip to Florida where he and four other Caribbean leaders
attended a multilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.
On Thursday, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Clayton Fernander, ACP Ashton Greenslade, ACP Kendal Strachan, ACP Leamond Deleveaux and ACP Theophilus Cunningham were asked to take their many weeks of accumulated vacation. They are expected to retire at the end of their leave.
This came two weeks after Deputy Commissioner Emrick Seymour, Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dean and Assistant Commissioner Clarence Reckley were also placed on leave. This leaves ACP Samuel Butler, ACP Ismella Davis and ACP Paul Rolle in that rank on the force.
When asked about the move, Minnis said, “What is wrong with taking vacation? They are entitled to their vacation. They were asked to take vacation. What is wrong with that?”
“We have a very astute and organized commissioner of police,” Minnis said as Ferguson looked on.
When asked who will replace the officers, Minnis said, “The commissioner will not do anything to endanger the lives and the safety of The Bahamas.
“Just as I have confidence in the commissioner to send folks off on vacation, you should have confidence.
“He and his team [have] already cut crime down dramatically in the inner city alone.
“Murder has decreased by 40 percent, when we look at the rates. Armed robbery has decreased by 24 percent.
“So if I trust him, and the Bahamian people trust him, I would hope the press does.”
It was unclear what information the prime minister was referencing. Murder was down about 25 percent in 2018.
Minnis said the process of sending people on leave has been ongoing across the civil service.
“When we came in, we initiated a policy, the government initiated a policy,” he said.
“We asked individuals who have long vacation leave to go on vacation because this government will not pay you for it. That was a problem of the past. We are watching the Bahamian people’s money.
“I’m not saying it’s happening with the police, don’t get me wrong.”
Asked who will step in for Seymour as deputy commissioner, Minnis asked, “What’s the big deal?
“We still have a commissioner…The police force is running very well. The commissioner will decide… how he wants to rearrange his police force.
“Remember, we did a manpower assessment audit. We will review that. Rome was not built in a day.”
When pressed further , the prime minister said, “Yeah, a number one needs a number two; number two needs number three; and three needs the four. When we give you two, then you need three, four, five, six.”
On Thursday, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames suggested that there will be more moves in law enforcement.
“These agencies are bigger than any one individual,” he said.
Dames added: “The commissioner obviously will decide, but there will be more and this is not only the police force, this is also the defense force. Those agencies that fall under my remit.”