Former Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Paul Thompson blamed both the Christie administration and the Minnis administration for the unfolding events surrounding eight senior police officers that were placed on leave in March of this year, and said he believes politicians do not respect the police force.
He said that while the former administration was wrong to engage in a promotion exercise for police officers that led to the force becoming too top heavy, according to a police force manpower audit tabled in the House of Assembly last year May, the current administration also should have handled the senior officers differently by giving them other assignments or paying them out for their remaining years to reach retirement.
“It’s the politicians to be blamed for what has happened,” Thompson said in a recent interview with The Nassau Guardian.
“The last government with the promotions; and this government, they could have used those people in the police college as lecturers, they could’ve named [Ken] Strachan consultant to the Ministry of National Security, specializing in prisons and detentions centers.”
He added, “There were three good men that were lost to the force – the deputy commissioner, [Emrick] Seymour, who I think should’ve been appointed to NEMA in Grand Bahama. That man did excellent work in Grand Bahama.
“You have Clayton Fernander, one of the best investigators we had in recent times, with the murder investigations and so on. He was in charge of investigations in the criminal investigation department. And Ken Strachan was the third.
“All three were excellent police officers. They could’ve found jobs for them after the hurricane. In fact, I wrote a government official advising that they use Mr. Seymour in NEMA in Grand Bahama; and these other two men, consider them for Abaco because they have administrative ability and security experience.”
He added, “It’s all politics. That last big promotion should not have happened.
“I have always said that the politicians do not have respect for police officers… It’s always the politicians who dictate that the commissioner would go somewhere – they don’t want this [or that] commissioner. That shouldn’t be happening.”
In March, Seymour, Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dean, ACP Clarence Reckley, Fernander, ACP Ashton Greenslade, Strachan, ACP Leamond Deleveaux and ACP Theophilus Cunningham were asked to take their many weeks of accumulated vacation.
Strachan has since taken legal action after he was appointed chief of security of the Willie Mae Pratt and Simpson Penn juvenile centers upon his return from leave, and later locked out of police systems. He has resisted the transfer, a move Thompson said he would have also made.
Minister of National Security Marvin Dames has insisted that there was “nothing sinister” about the move to place the senior officers on leave, and said that Strachan’s new appointment was not a demotion by any “stretch of the imagination” but rather called it a “significant responsibility”.
“Well I would not have accepted it. If you tell me I’m assistant commissioner of police and you want me to be chief of security at a girl’s school, where I would only be in charge of about five or six people, you’re taking me out of my position completely,” Thompson said.
“And I think that if they don’t want Mr. Ken Strachan, then pay him. Pay him for the years he has left and let him go.”
He added, “Because you can’t take a fellow from that rank who hasn’t done anything wrong. It’s a form of demotion even though he’s not getting less salary, but it’s a demotion.
“You put him in a job that formerly would’ve been done by a sergeant or a corporal, retired sergeant or retired corporal.
“Ken Strachan, I’m hoping that he wins his case. Really hoping that he wins his case. I would not have accepted it myself… I believe Ken Strachan is putting up a fight and he’s going to win.”