By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has challenged PLP Leader Philip “Brave” Davis to make his accusations about senior officer Clarence Reckley’s retirement in Parliament, suggesting this was the only way he would respond to claims this directive came from his office.
As Dr Minnis refused to refer to the matter yesterday, National Security Minister Marvin Dames was adamant there was nothing personal against any of the three officers slated to go into early retirement, telling reporters they were all happy to move on from the Royal Bahamas Police Force. He insisted this had nothing to do with politics.
The officers include Deputy Commissioner of Police Emrick Seymour, Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dean and Assistant Commissioner Reckley, who is the husband of former Urban Renewal Deputy Director Michelle Reckley. She was arraigned last month on more than 20 charges alleging that she defrauded the Urban Renewal Small Homes Repairs programme in Grand Bahama of over $1m.
Senior ACP Dean declined to comment on the matter yesterday, referring The Tribune to the minister. He said he will talk about the matter “at an appropriate time.”
The issue was brought into focus on Tuesday when Mr Davis accused the government of pressuring ACP Reckley into early retirement. Later that day, it was confirmed that officers Dean and Seymour were also among those having accumulated leave with retirements to follow.
Mr Dames said that yesterday he spoke with both officers in what he called a “cordial” conversation. However, he did not say whether he also spoke to ACP Reckley.
“As you would know this is nothing special, nothing out of the ordinary,” Mr Dames said yesterday during an interview with reporters outside Parliament.
“Both men, and there are others as well, who are at that point of retirement. We have some persons certainly within the service of the Royal Bahama Police Force with as many as close to two years leave. You are only allowed to keep up to 15 weeks.
“We would have conducted an audit of the police force just as an example and this is where we are in the organisation.”
He continued: “Both men are extremely happy. We had a very cordial conversation this morning. They are my friends, they all are.
“But this what is called the transforming of an agency. You come in, you serve, you reach that point of retirement. You prepare the officers under you to take over and this is what it’s all about.
“This has nothing to do with politics and we will continue this process because we are transforming these agencies. This is a part of the natural development and movement throughout these agencies.”
Mr Dames said this was simply the manifestation of years of neglecting the natural development and movement in certain agencies.
Asked by The Tribune whether ACP Reckley’s leave had anything to do with his wife’s court matter, as was suggested by Mr Davis, Mr Dames said it was an assumption on the PLP’s part.
“Do you believe it? Look at the manpower audit. Look at the mess the PLP would have left. Let’s look at the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
“We have an obligation as a government to get our agencies of government and our ministries of government in line with the system.”
Mr Dames said he did not know how much leave ACP Reckley had accumulated or when he was set to retire. However, he did not respond directly when he was asked whether there was indeed a directive from the Office of the Prime Minister in Mr Reckley’s case. The Tribune understands ACP Reckley’s service contract expires in August 2020, marking some 40 years with the force.
Senior ACP Dean enlisted in the RBPF 1981. This year marks his 38th anniversary with the force. Deputy Commissioner Seymour joined the force in 1980.
“We are doing what we are supposed to be doing in all agencies of government, that’s the simple point. The records are there, just look at the records,” Mr Dames said.
However, despite repeatedly pointing to the manpower audit and suggesting others would be made to go into retirement, the minister said he didn’t want to be specific about how many officers would follow.
He also told The Tribune that he did not know on what scale the RBPF would decrease.
“We have to get to a point where we accept that when you serve, when you sign on to serve, at some point you are going to have to retire. These individuals are at that point. The organisation has to grow and has to transition,” Mr Dames said.