Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday that he can’t fault senior officers who decide to take legal action against the government after they were reassigned to government ministries.
“Everyone has a right to do whatever they choose,” Dames said outside Cabinet.
“We can’t fault them for that.
“If you feel that you have been wronged, it’s not for me to say, ‘Don’t go to seek counsel.’
“It would be wrong. They have a right to get the best advice. They’re entitled to that.”
Last March, Deputy Commissioner Emrick Seymour, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Stephen Dean, ACP Clarence Reckley, ACP Ashton Greenslade, ACP Theophilus Cunningham, ACP Ken Strachan, ACP Clayton Fernander and ACP Leamond Deleveaux were asked to take their many weeks of accumulated vacation.
Strachan was the first senior officer reassigned upon his return to work in December when he was appointed chief of security for the Willie Mae Pratt and Simpson Penn juvenile schools; and Fernander was the second, assigned to the Ministry of Health.
Deleveaux was deployed to the Ministry of Education earlier this month to provide security advice to the ministry according to Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd.
Strachan has since taken legal action; and attorney Wayne Munroe, who represents Strachan, has suggested that Fernander might also take legal action.
Dames also defended the decision to move the officers.
“We have to ensure that our approach is very broad in scope,” he said.
“Law enforcement is not confined to the police force.
“We have problems in our schools. We have problems in other ministries of government that need clear oversight. And so it’s our job to ensure that we broaden our scope and we put our focus on wherever those issues are and we ensure that we are taking all measures possible to mitigate the problems that we’re facing throughout this country.
“And it’s more than just in the streets. It’s in our ministries.”
Asked what sorts of problems exist in those ministries, Dames pointed to violent incidents at schools and other government facilities across the country including fights in schools, a murder outside the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and sexual assaults on beaches. He said it is a sign that there needs to be more effort to secure facilities.
Dames insisted top tier officers were necessary for the positions in the various ministries.
“These ministries are massive,” he said.
“And the work that’s required to get them to where they need to go, we need all hands on deck.
“…When you are consulting with the ministers of these various ministries and you are providing security advice and guidance at that level, it’s a very high-level position. It’s not a low-level position. It requires very senior persons.
“The issues we face in many of our ministries, they are significant. And we must ensure that we have qualified and capable people who can assist the minister and the permanent secretaries in getting the job done and providing sound advice to ensure that we’re doing the right thing.”
Dames insisted the moves are not political.
“Persons will say that, but we have to stay focused on our overall strategic goals and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”