By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
NEW Police Commissioner Paul Rolle has defended the promotion of 68 senior officers this week, telling The Tribune his decision was part of a succession plan to have the best officers in place long after he retires in May 2023.
As he foreshadowed more promotions to come in “short order,” including others in 2021 and 2022, Commissioner Rolle revealed that $1m had been secured in the current budget cycle for officers to move up the ranks. He said the process began back in September and was the result of his own audit of the force and its administrative needs.
It also comes with the expectation that this year, two Chief Superintendents and 20 Superintendents are set to retire from the force. Twelve more Superintendents are due to retire during 2021.
Sixty eight Royal Bahamas Police Force officers were promoted to Chief Superintendent and Superintendent on Tuesday, in an exercise that is backdated to take effect from January 1. The promotions were highlighted in a leaked RBPF memo. Twenty-three officers were promoted to Chief Superintendent from Superintendent and 45 officers rose to Superintendent from Assistant Superintendent.
Among them was the RBPF’s lead investigator in the trial of former Cabinet minister Shane Gibson. Deborah Thompson, attached to the Financial Crimes Unit, was promoted to the rank of Superintendent from Assistant Superintendent.
Another notable promotion is that of press liaison officer Shanta Knowles from Superintendent to Chief Superintendent. She has been chosen as the first woman officer to head the Central Detective Unit. Her deputy is also a woman.
“I wish to point out that during our planning for this year’s budget, we prepared a budget for promotions and secured one million dollars for promotion in the current budget,” Commissioner Rolle said in a statement to this newspaper yesterday. “The process of promotion began during September last year as we sought to identify the best candidates that will represent the future of the force long after I am retired in three years in May 2023.
“I wish to point out now that there will be a need again to promote additional Chief Superintendents and Superintendents during 2021 and 2022 to replace those that are due to retire during the same period. I encourage all of the men and women of the Royal Bahamas Police Force to be encouraged and stay focused, as in short order I will announce the other promotions of Inspectors and Assistant Superintendents followed by the promotions of Sergeants and Corporals that are in a secure place.”
He acknowledged the findings of the 2017/2018 manpower audit of the force but said it was only a “snapshot” of the force in 2017 following a promotion exercise that year. However, Commissioner Rolle said it was not done by the Commissioner of Police at the time and its findings were no longer issues for the RBPF.
“If my memory serves me correct, that audit was not done by the Commissioner of Police. It was a snapshot in time and in any case those issues no longer exist as the needs at every level of the force continue to change. I am the third commissioner since the period reflected in the 2018 audit.
“As I prepared to assume responsibility for the Royal Bahamas Police Force, I have undertaken my own audit of the available manpower and physical resources. Having done that I made representation to the authority as I am required under the Police Act and outlined how I am proposed to restructure the force and put in place a succession plan for the future of the force.”
After the promotion exercises of 2017, the strength of the senior ranks stood at 20 Chief Superintendents, 119 Superintendents, 107 Assistant Superintendents and 154 Inspectors, Commissioner Rolle said.
He continued: “Since that exercise we have had four Chief Superintendents promoted to Assistant Commissioner, and four retired from the force leaving a balance of 17. During the same period we had 20 Superintendents retired from the force and two resignations. During the year I expect an additional two Chief Superintendents and 20 Superintendents to retire from the force. Twelve more Superintendents are due to retire during 2021.
“Having considered all of the facts before me as I prepared my plan for how I want to structure the Royal Bahamas Police Force, I concluded that there was a need for 38 Chief Superintendents that will make up my junior executive leadership team that will head every major division and department of the force.
“I also determined that there was a need for 90 Superintendents, who will lead operations in their various divisions and bring a more senior level of supervision on the streets in order to provide the level of service and security that I as Commissioner believe is required.
“Every one of the persons that were promoted were assigned to a portfolio as I had envisioned as I also either post new appointees and transferred every senior officer in New Providence to (a) new portfolio. There were many more deserving to be promoted, but that is all I can justify at this time. I am now already faced with one Chief Superintendent who will commence pre-retirement leave in two weeks.”
Ultimately, the basis for his decision was the provisions set out in the Police Act of 2009.
He said section four of the act stresses the emphasis on the maintenance of law and order, the preservation of peace, the prevention and detection of crime and the enforcement of all laws.
Section 5 (1) of that same law provides that the force consists of such numbers of police officers in the ranks specified in the first schedule may from time to time be authorised by Parliament and enrolled in the force. Section 5 (2) of the act goes on to give Parliament the power to authorise the numbers as the Commissioner considers necessary for the operational needs of the force.
Section 9 of the Police Force Act 2009 also mandates that at the beginning of each year the Commissioner of Police prepare a policing plan for the minister. This plan should include a statement of the force’s priorities for the year, of the financial and human resources expected to be available, and of the proposed broad allocation of those resources, and shall give particulars of the force’s objectives and its performance targets.
“There is an expectation that the Commissioner and his officers provide a level of security and quality of life to the residents and visitors such that all feel reasonably safe and that visitors feel a sense of comfort in coming to our islands. Section 12 of the Police Force Act 2009 provides that members of the Force shall be deployed in such numbers, and to such places and with such assignments as the Commissioner may from time to time direct,” he said.