Not so long ago, this column raised concerns about the career prospects of law enforcement officers forced to take long-term leave. It appears matters could be so much worse than a career delayed being an opportunity denied.
Two deputy commissioners at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services have filed a lawsuit. In it, they say they were forced to take leave – so far, so much the same as a number of other officers.
Here’s the kicker, though – they claim that they were shuffled aside to make way for the appointment of Charles Murphy – junior to them – as commissioner of corrections.
If the amount of accumulated weeks of vacation was the issue, it doesn’t seem to have affected Mr Murphy – he had more accumulated weeks of vacation than the two deputy commissioners combined.
And when the two returned – suddenly they found themselves out of their previous roles. Told not to return to the BDCS by the Minister of National Security, Marvin Dames, they were not assigned new jobs.
It should be noted that this is the same minister who just last week was quoted as being all in favour of equality when it comes to a woman one day leading the police force. One of the deputy commissioners he just bypassed for a junior is Bernardette Thompson-Murray, the highest ranked woman in prison service history. That line Mr Dames espoused that he is “all about gender equality” sounds even more hollow right now.
Murkier still is the claim from Mrs Thompson-Murray’s fellow deputy commissioner, Doan Cleare, that Commissioner Murphy actively campaigned for the FNM in the lead-up to the last election – which would be against public service policy and more deserving of dismissal than a promotion.
We also wrote recently in this column to say that it felt that we weren’t being told the whole story about police officers being put on leave – and this lawsuit is another piece in a jigsaw puzzle that when put together isn’t looking like a pretty picture.
The five police officers who were recently put on leave with the understanding that they would retire afterwards will now return – that much has changed, but they – like the two prison deputy commissioners – appear not to be returning to their old jobs when they come back but will be transferred.
Wayne Munroe QC has pointed out that public service rules do not allow officers to be transferred against their will.
So what’s going on here? Are promotions being dangled in return for political favours? Is favouritism at play, promoting some ahead of others no matter the greater career achievements of senior staff?
The questions are growing for Mr Dames. We’ve said it before – that greater transparency is desperately needed over these matters. If Mr Dames doesn’t come up with some answers soon, he might well find the public will draw their own conclusions – and have their own answer, at the ballot box next time.