PM expresses confidence in COP amid RBPF shakeup

Minnis: Civils servants with long vacation instructed to take it as govt. will not pay

 

Dismissing suggestions that the decision to place seven senior officers on vacation leave was politically motivated, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis called on the public to continue to have confidence in Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson, whom he said has “cut crime down dramatically”.

While addressing the media at Lynden Pindling International Airport Saturday following a trip to Florida where he and four other Caribbean leaders held multilateral discussions with United States President Donald Trump, Minnis said the Royal Bahamas Police Force has been running well and the commissioner should have the room to “rearrange his police force”.

“What is wrong with taking vacation?” said Minnis, when asked about matter.

“They are entitled to take vacation, they have been asked to take vacation

“What is wrong with that”?

He continued, “We have a very astute, organized commissioner of police.

“The commissioner will not do anything to endanger the lives [or] the safety of The Bahamas.

“Just as I have confidence in the commissioner, to send individuals off on vacation, you should have confidence.

“He’s already — he and his team — cut crime down dramatically.

“The inner-city alone, murder has decreased by 40 percent when we look at the rates.

“Armed robberies have decreased in the inner-city by 24 percent.

“So, I trust him and the Bahamian people trust him, I would hope that the press do.

“You are also Bahamian.”

Assistant Commissioners Clayton Fernander, Theophilus Cunningham, Ashton Greenslade, Ken Strachan, and Leamond Deleveaux, received letters last week from the commissioner, advising them to go on vacation leave beginning Monday.

Earlier this month, Senior Assistant Commissioner Stephen Dean, Assistant Commissioner Clarence Reckley and Deputy Commissioner Emrick Seymour were placed on leave.

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell accused the government of a “political purge”.

“This is an attempt to eliminate all PLPs from the public service,” Mitchell said in a statement.

“The FNM’s actions are wicked and evil and are condemned.”

Asked what happens after those senior officers take the vacation they have accumulated, Minnis said, “When we came in we initiated a policy, the government initiated a policy: We asked individual who have long vacation leave to go on vacation because this government will not pay you for it.”

Minnis said while in the public healthcare system, it was not unusual for some public servants to take leave, not record it and then upon retirement, have several years of vacation built up.

He said while that has not happened in the police force, the government’s policy is protect taxpayers’ dollars.

“That was a problem of the past,” he said.

“We are watching Bahamians money.

“I am not saying this happened with the police now, don’t get me wrong…

Asked whether the public will see other senior public servants asked to take vacation, Minnis said, “As I speak now I am asking all Bahamians who have long vacation, the policy of the government is to take your vacation because we are not paying you for vacation.”

Minnis added that this that applies to everyone in the public sector “including me”.

He also highlighted the manpower audit completed by the Ministry of National Security, which among other things, found that the senior command of the force being too top-heavy

The prime minister was also asked whether the police force has named an acting deputy commissioner, since Seymour was placed on leave.

He said the commissioner will make that determination.