By Dale Andrews
“For example you have an Inspector being promoted above 30 Inspectors who would have acquired that status before him, and the question must be asked, why?”
The Police Service Commission (PSC) is moving to end the culture of supersession in the Guyana
Police Force. It remains on track to finalize the much anticipated list of promotions by the end of next week.
This issue of supersession and other discrepancies, which have delayed the announcement of the list traditionally done at the beginning of the year, have been clarified.
The Police Service Commission is responsible for the promotion and disciplining of ranks from Inspector to Assistant Commissioner of Police.
The PSC had identified a number of discrepancies on the list of persons recommended for promotions. This list was belatedly submitted by the Guyana Police Force. Its submission has led to some sometimes acrimonious exchanges between the two parties over the past month.
Commission Chairman, Omesh Satyanand, said that the issue of one officer superseding his senior is of great concern.
He said that from looking at the seniority list of the Guyana Police Force as against the recommended list of promotions, it was recognized that there were a number of persons who were recommended for promotions above persons who are senior to them. This, he said, occurred at different levels.
“You need to justify why you’re promoting someone over someone else who is in the same rank for a longer period. That is something that we thought we should examine carefully,” Satyanand said.
A number of persons have suffered through this type of administration of justice.
Some ranks have waited years and in some cases decades before they are promoted and while some stuck it out, others became frustrated and left the Force.
The PSC Chairman explained that the Commission would normally peruse the files of persons recommended
for promotion and this should give some guidance as to their competence to move up another level.
This includes whether they would have passed the required examinations to become officers.
According to Satyanand, this year’s promotion list was filled with incidents of supersession and while some of them could be justified, many cannot.
“For example you have an Inspector being promoted above 30 Inspectors who would have acquired that status before him. The question must be asked, ‘why?’ Is it exemplary performance; yes, we accept that but it must be justified,” the PSC Chairman stated.
There are reports that certain favoured officers were recommended for promotion above others who are senior to them.
This newspaper was reliably informed that one officer who is currently serving on the East Coast of Demerara, is being pushed to supersede several of his seniors.
Among the other major discrepancies discovered by the PSC was a person being recommended for promotion although he was on retirement leave. Then there were persons who did not pass the required examinations. There was also the question of persons on the list who had pending disciplinary matters.
The delay in the approval of the senior promotion list has been the cause of much anxiety among all ranks of the Force and it had led to a blame game being played as to who was responsible for dampening the morale of policemen and women.
The PSC Chairman explained that the list of recommended promotions is normally submitted by the
Force in October, which would allow for the Commission to peruse it and interview the officers in a timely manner.
He said that this was not done, and it was only after the Commission wrote to the Commissioner of Police in December last year requesting the list, that it was finally sent on December 14.
This did not give the Commission enough time to go through the list, given the number of discrepancies unearthed.
“We should not be begging the Commissioner for the recommendations. He’s responsible for the Force, the development and day to day operations, and he is to ensure that ranks who perform outstandingly should be recommended to move to the next level; that is the Commissioner’s responsibility,” the PSC Chairman said.
Satyanand said that the process to come up with a final promotion list that is favourable to all is on stream, since the body has been able to look at some of the discrepancies identified, and the positive feedback from the Commissioner of Police to its queries.
He explained that promotions are not only confined to the beginning of the year; it can be done at anytime once the vacancies arise.
“Promotion is in keeping with the vacancies. If you see there is a vacancy in the force and it’s in April, then the police can write to the Service Commission, identifying the vacancy or if there are many vacancies in the Force at many levels from Inspector to Assistant Commissioner, and recommend these persons. That recommendation can be pronounced on it right there and then.”
He noted that if the culture of announcing the promotions at year end is to continue, they need to ensure that the list is ready by September or October.
“We’re looking at over 130 persons who are recommended to be promoted, including Cadet Officers and some from the Special Constabulary. It’s not something we can do within a week or two,” the PSC Chairman told this newspaper.
It could have been a case where the framers of the list were hoping that the Commission would have just browsed through it, enabling some who did not merit promotion to slip through.
According to Satyanand, this year’s promotion list could see most of the vacancies at the top level of the Force being filled, in keeping with the establishment strength.
This was due mainly in part to retirement of several senior officers, especially at the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police.
The Force currently has vacancies for four more Assistant Commissioners and according to the PSC Chairman, these vacancies will be filled.
“Promotion is always in keeping with the established strength and we want to make sure that when the promotions are out that those vacancies are filled. If those vacancies are not filled, you’re putting pressure on other Assistant Commissioners in the system to do other people’s work. We’ll be definitely reaching that requirement because I believe there are capable people in the Force to move to the next level,” Satyanand said.
Among those who are in line for this post are Senior Superintendents Maxine Graham, the lone female eligible; Nigel Hoppie; Dale Alves; Ian Amsterdam; Lyndon Alves; Whitney Bacchus and Paul Williams among others.
It would be no surprise, however, if Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum is moved up although he was only promoted last year.
Blanhum holds the position of Crime Chief, which should be held by no less than an Assistant Commissioner of Police.
But there will be questions if this is manifested, since it would again bring into focus the vexed issue of supersession.
Although the queries with regard to outstanding disciplinary matters have been clarified, there are still some hiccups affecting a significant number of such cases.
Of the matters that were highlighted by the Commission, about 50 per cent remain unresolved.
This state of affairs can be attributed to a breakdown in the communication between the PSC and the Police Force’s hierarchy.
There are pending disciplinary matters for Officers dating back to as far as 2007 and this will definitely impact negatively on the upward mobility of officers, although it is no fault of theirs.
The norm is to have these matters dismissed after five years, but this has not been the case.
The PSC Chairman laid the blame squarely on the Force’s administration.
Persaud explained that the PSC had put systems in place to try all disciplinary matters between 2007-2012 by retired Magistrate Cecil Sullivan.
“Mr Sullivan was able to try five or six of those matters…but his contract was not renewed after the initial six months.”
According to the PSC Chairman, this was after the Police Force administration procrastinated on trying the matters itself.
He explained that in keeping with the constitution, the PSC did give the authority to the Commissioner of Police in 2014 to set up tribunals to try these matters. “But this was never done….We did receive the names of the tribunal set up to have these matters tried but that was as far as it went,” Satyanand stated as he quoted from the constitution itself.
He assured that the PSC is on target to meet the February 23 deadline for the announcement of the much anticipated police promotions.
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