“Dignity and respect, that’s all I wanted.”
Those were the words of Assistant Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander more than a year ago after discovering he was being deployed to the Ministry of Health on “special assignment” after returning from forced vacation leave. That deployment was to last for an initial 12 months – but when he showed up at the Ministry of Health yesterday, he encountered a startled Permanent Secretary who did not even know why he was there.
ACP Fernander is one of three officers of that rank who found themselves first ordered to take vacation leave before returning to find themselves moved to other posts. While ACP Fernander found himself at the Ministry of Health, ACP Leamond Deleveaux was moved to the Ministry of Education, and ACP Kendal Strachan was assigned to head security teams at juvenile schools.
Now the officers are receiving their pay while not having to physically report to their ministries – with their posts not requiring them to physically attend.
These are officers with a wealth of years behind them in policing – and now they don’t even have to show up to the jobs they’ve been farmed out to. It’s a complete waste of their time, a complete waste of their experience and a complete waste of public resources.
Just think of all those areas where cutbacks have been made and people have been laid off in the past year, and here are officers that can’t even be found a role that matches their experience.
As one of the officers said yesterday, it “is total disrespect”.
These officers have given many years of their lives to serving the public. Indeed, ACP Fernander very nearly gave his life itself. In April 2013, he was shot and very seriously injured. From around the island, police officers rushed to Doctors Hospital to find out the condition of their colleague.
After a prolonged recovery, including surgery in the United States on his right arm, which was seriously injured, Mr Fernander, then a Superintendent, said: “Thank God that I’m here.”
He went on to say: “This is the time now that we need to come together as one (and) support the police force.”
He added: “Some people died and never was able to see how people appreciate them. But I have seen it, the overwhelming support.”
It seems as if that support has come up short for ACP Fernander in recent times. Surely there must be a better way that we can use the talents of those who have given so much – and nearly given everything – for our country.
Straight answers, please
Why on Earth can’t Health Minister Renward Wells give a straight answer?
Recently, he has danced around the subject of when vaccines will be in the country and being administered.
Mr Wells had said that administration of the jabs could begin this week. That clearly isn’t happening.
On Monday, he said there would be an update “sometime this week, later on this week”.
As it turns out, last Friday, all countries receiving doses through the Pan-American Health Organisation were told about the number of doses allocated from now to May. Dr Carissa F Etienne said that shipments are “likely to arrive mid-March”.
Why then can the Minister of Health not simply report what he’s been told directly rather than build hopes up only for them to be let down?
With the preparation time we have had, and the way we have been able to see how rollouts have taken place in other countries, we should have a very clear process by now with the public knowing exactly when they can expect jabs after the vaccine arrives in the country, plus where to go and how to arrange the vaccination.
Instead, we have Mr Wells with nothing but empty hands and a smile, saying he is “so happy that y’all are concerned and elated and making sure that you keep the Bahamian people informed”.
We’re doing our best to keep people informed, Mr Wells, it would be helpful if you did too.