Former Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee, believes that the acting Commissioner of Police is guilty of gross negligence in the reported transfer case of a Berbice inspector.
Inspector Godfrey Playter claims that he was suddenly transferred in April after he refused a take a call on a civilian’s phone while he was on duty at the eastern end of the Berbice Bridge.
Playter’s ranks had stopped a minibus which reportedly had no permission to venture to Berbice from the city.
The call on the passenger’s phone apparently came from the Commissioner of Police (ag), David Ramnarine.
Playter is claiming that he was not told who the person was.
In any case, the call on the civilian’s phone by the Top Cop would have been highly irregular, critics say.
The police in a statement said that Playter allegedly made disrespectful remarks to the persons in the minibus, two of whom happened to be police ranks.
The minibus, the police said, was sent by the Top Cop to Berbice. It was never disclosed why.
Ranks had been warned over time, of allowing interference in their duties.
According to Rohee in a statement on the matter, as the recent past Minister of Home Affairs, he is appalled and shocked at the response from the Office of the Commissioner of Police with respect to the incident on March 22nd, 2018 at the eastern end of the Berbice River Bridge involving a Route 45 minibus and its occupants.
“The incident should be further probed by investigative journalists. There appears to be more in the mortar than on the pestle. Kaieteur News attempted to investigate the incident but after a stinging rebuke from the Police they backed off. Today it is Playter, tomorrow it will be others,” Rohee said.
The former minister said that the slide into cover-ups at the administrative level of the GPF must not be allowed to go unquestioned.
“This situation assumes great importance in view of the fact that a new politically weighted Police Service Commission is now in place, leaving beyond the shadow of doubt, that our worst fears can become a reality.”
Rohee questioned why Ramnarine did not call Lyndon Alves, the Commander ‘B’ Division, and instruct that the Head of CID, Special Branch and Traffic, be on the lookout for the minibus bearing a particular number plate and carrying four passengers, including two civilians and two police ranks.
“My take is the COP (Commissioner of Police) is guilty of gross dereliction of duty having neglected his responsibility to pass instructions down the chain of command in accordance with the Standing Orders of the GPF. He failed to act professionally, thus placing in jeopardy and at risk the occupants of the bus.”
Rohee argued that had a situation arisen placing in danger the lives of the four passengers, Ramnarine would have been held personally responsible.
“The incident at the bridge could have been avoided had the ranks at ‘B’ Division been alerted about the specifications of the bus, its occupants, its mission and its imminent arrival in the station district.”
The former minister said that Playter should have been alerted enough to take a photo of the documents.
“As an experienced and smart policeman Playter should have anticipated that the matter would not have ended there and then.”
He questioned the need to embarrass the inspector in a confrontation for a traffic violation.
“This is totally unprofessional and smacks of administrative complicity at covering up for a traffic violation.”
Rohee wanted to know which one of the four passengers made the call to the unknown ‘boss’ and invited Playter to answer the phone.
“Is this the way persons unknown to a law enforcement officer expect to get away with a traffic violation? From Ramnarine’s admission it appears that he was the boss and sought to intervene by way of a phone call in a police operation when he has no authority to do so.”
Since the call was apparently made to Force Headquarters, the Commissioner should have passed the matter to Operations to take action at the divisional level.
“It is apposite to recall that a similar occurrence surfaced at the COI into a death threat to the President. It now seems where phone calls from civilians to COP and vice versa are concerned what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander. In this particular instance however, why such an everyday occurrence reached the level of the Commissioner is a clear indication that the bus and its occupants were either on a mission known only to Ramnarine.”
Rohee said that the fact that the Top Cop did not find it fit or proper to alert any other senior rank at ‘B’ Division about the details of the bus and its passengers, attests to a lack of professionalism.
“He should therefore be charged with negligence of duty. Playter has been a Station Sergeant for a number of years and a Court Prosecutor for almost 16 years. This is an indication that the Force had confidence in him and recognized his competence as a Court Prosecutor.”
According to Rohee, had Kaieteur News not exposed this grave injustice the matter would have passed like so many others involving junior ranks of the GPF.
“To claim that the punishment meted out to Playter, by way of a transfer from one division to another is a mere administrative matter, is to mislead and downplay the vindictiveness of Ramnarine’s action. Transferring or posting of ranks in a police division or out of a police division, albeit of a routine nature, is considered both ‘administrative’ and ‘operational’ by Force Headquarters. Therefore, for the Commissioner to claim that his action was purely administrative is to tell a half truth, which is worst than telling a lie.”
Rohee noted that a key question to this storm in a teacup which spilt over into the public domain is who the two civilians were and why there were two police ranks.
“These are important questions that the Commissioner needs to come clean with, lest media speculation forces him to explain the secrecy and the mystery of the number 45 minibus and its four unidentifiable passengers seated at the time in the bus at the eastern end of the Berbice River Bridge where on a Thursday mid-morning, drama and injustice morphed into fact and fiction at one and the same time.”
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