ASSISTANT Commissioner of Police Kendal Strachan (left) and his lawyer Wayne Munroe.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
ASSISTANT Commissioner of Police Kendal Strachan, acting on advice from his lawyer Wayne Munroe, is defying an order to report to the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development for a new role as chief of security at the Willie Mae Pratt and Simpson Penn schools for girls and boys. His new appointment was to take effect on December 9 when he returned from a lengthy, forced vacation leave. This newspaper reported last week that he intends to fight the transfer.
Mr Munroe, QC, said yesterday the officer will continue to report as normal to his office at police headquarters on East Street. In a letter dated December 12, Mr Munroe responded on behalf of ACP Strachan, pictured, to a letter from Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson dated December 9.
“We note the following with regard to the letter,” Mr Munroe wrote. “The first paragraph of the letter refers to ‘collaborative decision’ having been made to appoint our client to a post of chief of security. In the second paragraph it is indicated that the appointment is ancillary to our client’s present position. In the third paragraph (it is noted) that our client is to play an integral part of the executive team ‘under the protocol of the permanent secretary’.
In the fourth paragraph our client is directed to report to a civilian in the person of the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development.”
Mr Munroe said after reviewing the Police Force Act, the Constitution, the Public Service Commission Regulations and the Police Service Commission Regulations, his team believes it is “very likely that the commissioner’s directive in the letter may not constitute a lawful order.”
“In order to properly evaluate your directive, and advise our client and in particular whether our client ought to request that you submit the matter of your directive to the Police Service Commission, we would request that you provide clarification of ambiguities and concerns on the four issues highlighted above,” he wrote. “The letter can be read as purporting to transfer our client contrary to the constitution. Our client does not consent to being transferred or seconded outside of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.”
Mr Munroe asked Commissioner Ferguson to indicate which parties were involved in the “collaborative decision” to transfer ACP Strachan.
He asked whether the chief of security post is newly created and whether a “vacancy was advertised pursuant to the relevant rules of the public service”.
He wrote: “How is it envisaged that a substantive post can be ancillary to our client’s continuing to serve in the post of assistant commissioner of police? As you are no doubt aware no steps have been taken to initiate any process to remove our client from his post of assistant commissioner of police.
“What is exactly meant by our client being subject to the protocol of the permanent secretary? Is this meant to mean that our client is to be subject to disciplinary control of a body other than Police Service Commission? Please explain how it is that our client can report to any civilian given his position as a member of a disciplined force?”
He continued: “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.”
Commissioner Ferguson, when contacted yesterday, said he doesn’t believe this matter is one “a commissioner should be commenting on.” Told his signature appears on ACP Strachan’s transfer letter, he said National Security Minister Marvin Dames addressed the issue last week. Mr Dames told the press ACP Strachan’s transfer cannot be viewed as a demotion; he was not asked to comment on ACP Strachan’s decision to report to police headquarters or Mr Munroe’s legal position.
ACP Strachan was directed to take vacation leave in March along with seven other officers. Four of those officers will await news on their appointments when their leave ends.
The Minnis administration has said its forced vacation leave plan reflects a desire to prevent officers from accumulating so much vacation leave that they have to be paid substantial sums of money when they retire. The application of the policy has been controversial this year, however, with officers on leave questioning why they were not summoned to return to duty after Hurricane Dorian and why officers with more accumulated vacation weeks or fewer years until retirement were not directed to take vacation instead or along with them.