Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
NATIONAL Security Minister Marvin Dames yesterday pledged “there will be more to come” after five high-ranking Royal Bahamas Police Force officers were retired.
Assistant Commissioners of Police Clayton Fernander, Ashton Greenslade, Ken Strachan, Theophilus Cunningham and Leamond Deleveaux have received notice to take accrued vacation leave effective immediately – bringing the total number of senior officers placed on pre-retirement leave in recent weeks to eight.
A police insider told The Tribune that Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson and Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel are also among those persons slated for pre-retirement leave in the near future.
Mr Dames did not confirm future departures as he fielded questions from the media yesterday; however, he stressed there was nothing “sinister” about the ongoing “transformation” of law enforcement agencies.
He stressed successive governments have allowed accrued vacation - which should be capped at 15 weeks - to “run amok”.
However, the Progressive Liberal Party has asserted 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 slammed the move as “evil and wicked” actions that the party condemns.
Separate meetings with executive teams from the police and defence force were held on Wednesday, according to Mr Dames, who said discussions focused on the significant financial strain excessive accrued vacation poses for the government.
The ACPs received their letters yesterday, ordering them to take their vacation leave.
In response to reports the letters came as a shock to senior officers, Mr Dames noted the meetings were cordial, adding that everyone left on “good accord”.
“We’re talking about individuals,” Mr Dames said, “the majority of whom are on leave, who have in excess of a year and in some cases close to two years.
“We have an agency and the morale is very strong, the morale hasn’t been stronger.
“Everyone is entitled to leave,” he continued, “we need to bring our departments, not only the police and defence force, to a place where we manage it, where people are allowed to go on leave and spend time with their families.
“But we are at a point right now throughout the service, we have this significant accumulation of leave and it puts the government in a very difficult place when it comes to retirement...when you look at that collectively across the service, it’s a significant amount of monies.”
Mr Dames spoke on the sidelines of the launch of the public awareness component of the Citizen Security & Justice Programme.
“What we’re talking about is bringing a service in line with standards and policies,” Mr Dames said, “and this is something that is new but we have to do it. We have to run an efficient government, part of running an efficient government is ensuring that your policies are adhered to and all the departments are adhering to those policies.”
He continued: “That you are managing your departments efficiently to ensure people are able to take the leave and not accumulate it at the end of the day to cost the taxpayers a significant amount of money.”
Earlier this month it was revealed that Deputy Commissioner Emrick Seymour, Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dean and Assistant Commissioner Clarence Reckley were all asked to take accrued vacation ahead of their respective retirements from the force.