ACP fights back

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Ken Strachan is resisting a transfer from the Royal Bahamas Police Force to the Ministry of Social Services.

Strachan’s lawyer, Wayne Munroe, QC, stated in a letter to Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson that the directive to move may be unlawful.

On December 12, Munroe wrote the commissioner seeking clarification on the transfer letter.

He suggested that legal action could be taken over the matter.

Strachan returned to duty last Monday after being ordered to use accrued vacation in March, and was presented with a letter signed by Ferguson about a new post.

“I wish to advise that a collaborative decision has been made to appoint you chief of security for the [Willie Mae] Pratt and Simpson Penn centers,” the letter stated.

“This appointment is to take effect on 9th December, 2019. The new appointment is ancillary to your present position in the Royal Bahamas Police Force with all of your benefits, entitlements and pension to remain the same.”

It added, “You will play an integral part of the executive team in the said ministry under the protocol of the permanent secretary. You are hereby directed to report to the permanent secretary, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development.”

Strachan was one of eight senior police officers asked to take their many weeks of accumulated vacation in March following the results of a police force manpower audit that revealed the senior command of the force was too top-heavy. The audit was tabled in the House of Assembly last year May.

Strachan “does not consent to being transferred or seconded outside of the Royal Bahamas Police Force”, according to Munroe’s letter.

“Having reviewed the Police Force Act, the Constitution of The Bahamas, the Public Service Commission Regulations and the Police Service Commission Regulations, we have formed the view that it is very likely that your directive in the letter may not constitute a lawful order,” it further stated.

“The letter can be read as purporting to transfer our client contrary to the constitution.”

Further elaborating on the matter yesterday, Munroe said, “In the public service you cannot be transferred without your consent, from any position.”

Noting that the only exception would be in the case of a promotion, he added, “If you read the constitution, and even general orders, when a public servant joins, they have a career path, career prospects.

“It’s just like you – you’re a journalist; if they were to say now ‘oh, we want you to go teach remedial English with the people at the Potter’s Cay [Dock]’, of course you would say ‘that’s not what I came here for; that’s not in line with my career’.

“The same applies for public service, and more so for policemen where, if you look at the constitution, the senior ranks of the police force are meant to be independent of political interference, for obvious reasons.”

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames has insisted the new appointment was not a demotion by any “stretch of the imagination” and called it a “significant responsibility”.

However, Munroe said yesterday that Strachan cannot be transferred laterally without his permission, nor can he be demoted if he has not “done something to be disciplined for”.

“There are only two ranks that he could be promoted to, and they’re not offering him any of those,” Munroe asserted.

“The two ranks are deputy commissioner of police and commissioner of police.

“But there is no other job in the public service that is a promotion from assistant commissioner of police.”

Munroe is seeking to clarify four “issues” in the letter Strachan received on December 9: clarification of the people involved in the “collaborative decision” to make the appointment; how the ACP position could be “ancillary” to chief of security at the aforementioned juvenile schools; the suggestion of the new position being “under the protocol of the permanent secretary” and whether it is appropriate for an ACP to report to “any civilian”.

“We would request that you provide the requested information on an urgent basis to prevent the need for us to move the court to construe the contents of the letter and to provide any necessary remedy,” the letter read.

As of yesterday, Munroe said he was still awaiting Ferguson’s response.

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