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It Hurts, It’S Been Ruined: After 38 Years, Senior Officer Opens Up On Force Departure

Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Stephen Dean.

Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Stephen Dean.

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE government’s handling of the pre-retirement leave process for several senior police and defence force officers “ruined” their departures, according to outgoing Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Stephen Dean.

He said the “political buzz” around the move gave the impression the officers involved were “holding on and refusing to let go of their glory years,” rather than being open to moving on.

“It hurt,” Senior ACP Dean admitted in an interview with The Tribune. “I wanted it to be done with more respect because the idea the public now has, is that we didn’t want to go home.

“We sacrificed a lot for our organisations. Now instead of our vacation time being looked upon with respect and admiration, it is being questioned and looked at with a level of anger by the public.”

Senior ACP Dean, a member of the Royal Bahamas Police Force for the past 38 years, is one of eight senior officers who received a notice to take accrued vacation leave last month ahead of retirement.

Additionally, several Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers were also given similar notices.

Addressing the matter over the weekend, Senior ACP Dean said: “I don’t have a problem with being asked to leave; I honestly was expecting it from the start of the year. My issue is with the way it was done. The discussion could have occurred somewhat smoother, not come as a shock and a ‘it’s time to go next week’ kind of feeling.”

He added: “I wished that part was done differently. But it’s funny because I always tell the young officers to be prepared for anything, because the government can say at any minute, ‘we want to do something else or something different.’

“I just hoped for it to be done with more respect. I know for me, I don’t mind going home because my family is waiting for me.

“I want the public to respect our sacrifice. That time isn’t money owed or time held on to, that’s time away from our family, missed weddings, funerals, graduations, birthdays, anniversaries and vacation trips.”

He continued: “So it hurts when I hear my vacation time being discussed the way it is because it is truly a sacrifice. I have the comparative advantage over some of my colleagues because I am so well known in the public’s eyes. They know Stephen Dean, so when they see the time and my departure, they know it’s more to do with a man serving his country than anything else.

“But let’s be clear, a senior police (officer) can’t take time off during a crime wave.

“Yes, there were days I wanted to call in sick or go on vacation, but how can I when the country needs me to do my job?”

The moves, since being announced, have become a talking point with members of both sides of the political divide giving their position on what it could mean for the respective agencies.

National Security Minister Marvin Dames has pointed to the significant financial strain excessive accrued vacations poses for the government as key reason for the moves.

In late March, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis was also asked to address the controversy, and he echoed Mr Dames’ sentiments.

“What’s wrong with asking individuals to go on vacation? When we came in we initiated a policy, government initiated a policy,” Dr Minnis said on March 23. “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 money.

“I’m not saying this happened with the police. Now don’t get me wrong. I worked in the public service. I came up through the public service and it was not unusual that individuals employed in the public sector would have taken their leave but not record it and then at the end coming near their retirement they would have three four years vacation.”

However, the Progressive Liberal Party claimed that a “political purge” was taking place in the police force, charging that it was an attempt to eliminate PLP supporters from the public service.

PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell has slammed the move as “evil and wicked”.

Nonetheless, Senior ACP Dean defended the RBPF against claims of political meddling, insisting that over his years of service, he never witnessed any sort of political interference.

He said despite the rumblings, the RBPF has remained a mandate-centric agency, where directives are discussed with political figures, but handed down exclusively by the senior command of the force.

He explained: “The basic mandate of the force doesn’t change. We might put some relish on things and dress it up, that’s the politics, but it still comes down to the basics, that’s the execution.

“Police have to prevent crime and protect life and property. That’s the basics and that will never change. Now people who are in charge, when they change, we see changes in approach and faces.

“Now that part is true, but, I want to make it clear, no politician has ever come to me…I’ve never seen a circumstance where a politician has told a police how to police,” he said.

“I’ve seen recommendation and mentions of, ‘hey look at this or do more of this.’ Now, there were times over my years where things have been done with more of a political spin. But you have to understand and respect that these persons are voted into office and when things go bad, it’s on them. That’s a lot to live up to,” he added.

“Over the years, I’ve been tied to every party. Every time the government changed, someone said to me, ‘boy Dean, your people reach.’ I say to them, I am loved and respected by all because my job comes first. I am a man that love standards. I am not cutting through nothing and do what it takes to get the job done.

“So if a government comes in, I read the manifesto and I get to work on the things being emphasised and seeing how best we can relate that to our overall mandate as a force. Nothing wrong with that,” he said.

Comments

sheeprunner12 4 months, 3 weeks ago

What do these old heads not get???? ....... Why do they feel that they have a right to hold on to these positions until they die?????? ........ This crap has to stop in our civil service and other departments........... SMT

They are taking opportunities and jobs away from their grandchildren ....... and their children go overseas to school AND STAY THERE for the very same reason ......... entitlement

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pro_test 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I guess you didn't read this article.

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tetelestai 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Pro_test, no he didn't read the article.

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sheeprunner12 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Read it very well ......... he should have gladly walked away at 55 or 30 years. He has overstayed his time ............ Just like MOST of senior management in Government departments ...... They take pride in saying that they serve 40+ years in posts, when they should have gone home a long time ago.... Dead wood.#renaglinton

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momoyama 4 months, 3 weeks ago

now it is clear to see what drives this sleazy FNM narrative about public servants. People like yourself who are so blinded by prejudice and pre-judgment that EVEN AFTER hearing a man say he was happy to move on, but with respect, you still come back with drivel that makes him seem like an ingrate who wanted to hold on for years. Amazing.

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Apostle 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Is this what we've come to in this country. It is a crying shame to see the way some persons show gratitude to persons who have served this country all of their youthful years. "Go yo say. You're taking jobs from young people?" The Police Act gives a senior officer service until the age of 60 or 40 years of service whichever comes first. This is service above self and perhaps a little more self respect for the service is needed by more persons in this country. Forget the person. We still have mucgh to learn.

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geostorm 4 months, 3 weeks ago

So true @sheeprunner. Do your time and bow out gracefully. Many civil servants hold on to these jobs like they are holding on for dear life.

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banker 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Chopping off the dead wood? Didn't the police do a wonderful job all of these years?

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jus2cents 4 months, 3 weeks ago

The police are getting better at their own management they have a lot of good people in the top ranks. This is the right thing to do. Retirement is also a safety issue, things change its called progress, plus people need to take vacation (improves productivity) and anyone working for the Government / Bahamian People, should retire when ready for the betterment of the country, its not that we don't respect them, we do and thank them for their service very much! Plus the Top Ranking Police can work as consultants, so anyone near retirement should 'do the right thing' and let younger people take over.

The politicians should do the same and for the same reasons.

Personal feelings and delicate egos get us ALL into a lot of mess. Its business / safety not personal. Looks like the police recognize this, well done to them!

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TigerB 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I was fortunate to leave before I was sent home. life is funny, I saw many being sent home the same way when I was there. I served along with those who are being sent home now. Its a revolving door. You get to watch those sent home before you,years later your time comes. Many never took note of the way the ones that were sent home when it was their time. Now it these guys time and they still stayed and waited to be sent home just like the ones before...Now a new set is watching these ones get sent home and they will make the same mistake and stay until they get sent home. Sounds like a parable... same story , different day.

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birdiestrachan 4 months, 3 weeks ago

They deserve more respect. No Games is on a revengeful Journey. But very soon the Bahamian people will send him home.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Dean should have been forced into retirement many moons ago for incompetence. Now he will get to suck on the public purse for his overly generous retirement, health and other benefits that most Bahamians can only dream of ever having. Good riddance!

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sheeprunner12 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Exactly ........ he was a corporal when Perry started that Urban Renewal gimmick ........ and 15 years later, he is an ACP from PR ....... SMT

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John 4 months, 3 weeks ago

The hypocrisy of it all is Hubert Minnis is 64 years old and plans to run in Elections 2022. Commissioner Anthony Ferguson is as old or has put in as many years on the force as some of the officers he has sent home. And everyone that holds a job will have to face the day he has to retire unless he meets his demise while still employed. And, yes, retirement should be more than a 'here take your vacation and don't bother to come back when your done" Retirement is not an easy pill to swallow and many companies spend mega bucks and company time preparing employees for it. Not only do you not have a job anymore, but income is reduced and spare time is in abundance. And yes some do transition easily by putting more time into the church, family or other activities. But some continue to taste the bitterness of the retirement pill. They too may become bitter, with feelings of resentment and rejection. Some may turn to alcohol and other activities they shunned all of their lives. And of course, there are those who will still feel they are/were indispensable. They may live with the hope and dream that they will be called back to work and will keep their uniforms and gear ready to go. ANd it is not unusual if some do show up for work and have to be (gently) reminded that they are retired and should go back home. Once a man and for the second time, a child.

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BahamaRed 4 months, 3 weeks ago

This wouldn't be an issue if a policy was implemented to prevent government employees from racking up months of vacation time.

Furthermore if you were so ready to leave why would you have so much vacation lined up ahead of retirement. They shouldn't have to tell you to take vacation, you just start taking them in preparation for retirement.

smh- only thing embarrassing is allowing them to be on the force for so long with so much vacation time.

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BahamaRed 4 months, 3 weeks ago

And to add on, if more people were trained to do a particular job then you wouldn't have person locked in to the point where they cannot take vacation or go on leave.

But that is how Bahamians go, they don't want anyone to be trained equal to them because they feel it provides job security. But fact is if you dropped dead today, someone still has to fill your position- so take your dern vacation.

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birdiestrachan 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Mr. Dean I am sorry you were hurt. This was all done in the wrong way. But take heart. weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning. All of you deserved more respect..

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ThisIsOurs 4 months, 3 weeks ago

Said from last week I do not understand how you can treat men who were being asked to work 12 hour shifts indefinitely FOR THE SAKE OF THE COUNTRY like this. You didn't even give them the honour of a retirement party. A chance to walk around with dignity to say goodbye to the troops. This is shameful

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sheeprunner12 4 months, 3 weeks ago

He did not intend to "retire" yet ........... just read his words. These guys all feel entitled to work to age 60-65 and get paid for excess years of vacation as part of their "bonus" ......... PLP-induced slackness with our Treasury funds .......... while others go hungry, the PEPs enjoy the life.

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stillwaters 4 months, 3 weeks ago

He looks about retirement age, kinda worn out. I actually thought that most people would embrace retirement!!!!! Silly old me........

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DWW 4 months, 3 weeks ago

A) is it a 'wave' if it lasts for 20 years? B) the irrelevant irreverent PLP politicised what is otherwise a simple matter of housekeeping. C) when RBPF can unbox those unused commodore 64s and that old dot matrix printer and start functioning in the 21st then we can start talking about bringing in new officers and energy

Seriously it takes 3 hours to make a 15 item witness statement which is carefully and laboriously hand written in neatly legible cursive. Meanwhile the slick criminal lawyers got state of the art electronics and training to get anyone off for anything. Wake the F up bahamas

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