NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of National Security Marvin Dames assured yesterday that the reassignment of Assistance Commissioner of Police Kendal Strachan is “not personal”.
After being forced to take more than eight months of accumulated vacation, Strachan was advised on his first day back that he was set to be transferred to the Willie Mae Pratt Centre for Girls as its new head of security.
Dames, who spoked to the matter outside Parliament, said the reassignment is not a demotion and labeled the suggestion as “nonsense”.
“We would have made these pronouncements some time ago that these agencies are going through a transition – the police force, the defense force, as well as the Bahamas Department of Corrections,” he said.
“The government has taken the position, we are positioning these agencies for the future and as is the case in the corporate world, in the private world, changes have to happen.
“As far as demotions are concerned, that is totally incorrect.”
Dames said the move is in line with the government’s multi-agency approach to addressing crime.
He explained that Strachan has now been attached to the Ministry of Social Services to serve as an advisor to the minister on crime and safety matters, as well as the chief security officer.
“Under that remit as you know we have Simpson Penn and Willie Mae Pratt,” he continued.
“We have Urban Renewal. We have any number of entities under the ministry that requires significant support and so what we are trying to do, we are taking a holistic approach, as we continue to say, to fighting crime and social ills throughout this country and we are continuing to move forward.”
A man power audit undertaken by the Ministry of National Security last year outlined critical challenges in organization resource management practices and pointed to a “flawed and biased” promotion exercise, as well as the senior command of the force being too top-heavy.
Pointing to that report Dames said, “We are using those reports as a guidance and as a restructuring measure for our agency.
“So, I don’t want, because I know many of these officers, and I don’t want us to take it to where it’s personal.
“We need to accord the highest level of respect to these persons. There’s a great deal of sensitivity involved and we have to be responsible as we go about our business. But again, as I said before, this is the position of the government.”
In March, Strachan, along with seven other senior police officers were directed to take their weeks of accumulated vacation days.
Among those officers were Deputy Commissioner Emrick Seymour, Senior ACP Stephen Dean, ACP Clarence Reckley, ACP Clayton Fernander, ACP Ashton Greenslade, ACP Leamond Deleveaux, and ACP Theophilus Cunningham.
To date, several Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) officers, including RBDF Commodore Tellis Bethel, have also been forced to take their accumulated vacation leave.
Asked yesterday whether this operation is being done to address the concerns outlined in the government’s manpower audit, Dames said, “I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but as I said before initially, we would have done these audits for a reason.
“We have to come to a place where when we do the work and we do the empirical study, at the end of the day we need to look at those recommendations coming out of those studies and see what is important to apply to improve the level of efficiency and professionalism and to ready these agencies for the future.
“At the end of the day it’s service to the Bahamian people and I see sometimes persons are taking it to a personal level and that I don’t want.
“Many of the people I speak to in these agencies I know personally and I would consider them friends and so I want to be very responsible and I do my utmost to ensure that others are aware that we have a vested responsibility to ensure that as we carry out our duties, we do it with the highest level of respect for these officers and their families; but more importantly that our focus is always in the best interest of this nation and the Bahamian people.”
Eyewitness News understands Strachan will be seeking legal advice on the matter.