After returning from a months-long leave, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Ken Strachan has been reassigned as the “chief security officer” at the Department of Social Services, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames has confirmed.
Strachan was one of eight senior police officers who were suddenly placed on leave in March.
However, upon Strachan’s return on Monday, The Nassau Guardian understands he was given a letter appointing him as chief of security at the Willie Mae Pratt Centre for Girls and Simpson Penn Centre for Boys detention centers for juveniles.
Strachan, whom Dames yesterday described as “a very good officer”, had been the head of operational support prior to being placed on leave.
Dames said yesterday that Strachan’s new appointment was not a demotion by any “stretch of the imagination”, insisting that “transitions” are carried out with the utmost respect.
“He has been assigned or seconded to the Department of Social Services as essentially the chief security officer and advisor to the minister of social services, meaning that he will have overall responsibility for all security and safety matters related to that particular ministry,” Dames said of the move.
“It’s a very significant responsibility, because this all fits into the holistic approach that this government has decided to take.”
He said that the role of chief security officer of the juveniles schools are “part of the overall remit because that’s a part of the Ministry of Social Services”.
“The Ministry of Social Services is a major ministry that has a significant amount of challenges,” Dames continued.
“They deal with everything from young people; those persons too, who are at risk; persons within communities who are facing challenges, they’re dealing with the Urban Renewal as well.
“And so these are all significant social arms that all somehow, some way tie into this superstructure of crime and safety.”
Dames added, “It’s not a demotion, the way I see it, because it is a significant amount of work in all of these government ministries.”
The minister was also asked whether this could be compared to when he was suddenly reassigned to head police operations at Lynden Pindling International Airport while he was a senior police officer.
“I certainly don’t want to get into that side,” he responded.
“The story is, is that my movement to the airport was sudden; there was no preparation; there was no understanding.
“It was not me being concerned whether I was moved to the airport. But I was moved to the airport with really not a clear mandate, not anything outlining. And there was not an office or no accommodation or no staff or anything.
“That’s not where we’re seeking to go here as a government. When we had discussions about transitioning and everything, these are the discussions that we had. We don’t want this to be perceived as a punishment or a getting back at something. But we want to ensure that there are systems in place for accommodations.”
Dames said that “nothing changes, absolutely nothing” in terms of Strachan’s benefits and salary.
The minister said the commissioner of police was in communication with the Department of Social Services and he (Dames) was in communication with the minister of social services (Frankie Campbell, himself a former police officer) to accommodate Strachan’s appointment.
In March, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Clayton Fernander, ACP Ashton Greenslade, Strachan, ACP Leamond Deleveaux and ACP Theophilus Cunningham were asked to take their many weeks of accumulated vacation, with the expectation that they would retire at the end of their leave.
Just a few weeks earlier, Deputy Commissioner Emrick Seymour, Senior ACP Stephen Dean and ACP Clarence Reckley were handed the same treatment.
The requirements for retirement are 60 years old or 40 years of service.
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.
The Bahamian constitution, however, provides that the power to remove an assistant commissioner is vested in the governor general.
In March, Dames said that there was “nothing sinister” about the move to place the senior officers on leave and he retains that stance now.
However, he would neither confirm nor deny whether other officers can expect to receive similar new appointments when they return to duty.
“As we continue to move forward, those decisions will be made,” Dames said.
“We will not have a discussion about these things in open before we sit and have a conversation with those involved.”
He added, “I speak to the commissioner and the commodore and others on a regular basis and I said, ‘Listen, you as leaders of these agencies have to begin to prepare these agencies for the future.’”
Fernander, 54, who has served on the force for 36 years and headed up criminal investigations, is expected to return on January 23. He would have another two years before he is up for retirement.
Some senior police officers have said the expectation is that he will receive a letter similar to that of Strachan.
Strachan could not be reached for comment.
The revelation that he has been reassigned to the Department of Social Services came even as the commissioner of police claimed that murders went up because the police were stretched for resources in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian as officers had to “attend to” the devastated islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco.
Last night, Dames was also asked about plans for Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel, who was sent on leave in October and is due back on January 15.
“We’re not at that point yet,” he said.
“But, as I said before, everyone who is involved, we will give them the respect that they all deserve. And I take that very seriously. And we will ensure that we will do. And so we will not have a discussion about these things in open before we sit and have a conversation with those involved. This is no different from what happens in the corporate world or in any other country.”