Letters

Response to article dated 6th June 2020 and published in The New Today “A Peep Inside RGPF”

Having read the article entitled “A peep inside RGPF” and having served as Chairman of the Public Service Commission for two (2) terms, it would be remiss of me not to comment on the legal aspects of the article, vis a vis the grant of leave to police officers on assignment or secondment and the statutory responsibility of the Commissioner of Police vis a vis the grant of leave.

Appointment of Commissioner of Police
In sec. 89 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of Grenada, the Commissioner of Police is referred to as the Chief of Police (“the COP”) and is appointed by the Governor General acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission.

Provided that the Public Service Commission shall first consult with the Prime Minister and if the Prime Minister signifies his objection to the appointment, the Commission shall not advise the Governor General to appoint that person.

The Constitution is therefore clear that the appointment of the COP is a political appointment whose mandate is to follow the policies of the Government of the day. However, these policies should neither derogate from legal principles nor breach the constitution itself.

Powers of the COP not absolute
The COP’s decision-making powers are not autonomous but restricted by the decision of the Cabinet as is evidenced in the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (No. 11) Regulations SRO. 38 2020 sec. 4 (2) and (3) as reproduced hereunder:

“(2) Where the Secretary to the Cabinet directs that specified public officers attend work, the Government shall take reasonable steps to –

(a) ensure safe transport of the public officers in accordance with regulation 14; and

(b) comply with the physical distancing protocols in accordance with regulation 6.

(3) Subject to sub regulation (4), all employees of Statutory Bodies and State-owned Enterprises shall work remotely from home, except as otherwise directed by the Board and approved in writing by the Commissioner of Police acting on the direction of the Cabinet.”

The power to appoint persons to hold or act in offices in the police force of or below the rank of Sergeant, including the power to exercise disciplinary control and to remove such persons from office vest in the COP (sec. 89 (3) of the Constitution of Grenada).

However, in relation to ranks above Sergeant, including; Inspector, Assistant Superintendent, Superintendent, Assistant Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police, the power to appoint such officers vest solely with the Public Service Commission (Constitution sec. 89 (2) and Police Act CAP 244 sec. 34).

Grant of leave (Gazetted officers and Inspectors)
The grant of leave in respect of officers above the rank of Sergeant is not within the purview of the COP, and he CANNOT make any decision in relation thereto.

The grant of leave for officers above the rank of Sergeant, rest squarely with the Public Service Commission guided by any act of Parliament relating thereto.

By S.R.O 26 of 2007 Public Service Commission (Delegation of powers) (Leave of Absence and Emergency Vacation Leave to Gazetted Officers and Inspectors of Police) (No. 7) Order, the Public Service Commission delegated the grant of leave and emergency vacation to a maximum of fourteen (14) days to the Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Ministry and other Heads of Department. It is only in these circumstances the Permanent Secretary and Heads of Department can grant leave.

Leave accumulated by senior officers on attachment/secondment
The issue has always been whether officers who are assigned or seconded to institutions such as Regional Security Services (RSS) or Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) are entitled to leave and promotion pursuant to their official duties as police officers.

In relation to vacation leave, historically a police officer would accumulate leave at his seconded position as well as in his substantive position in the RGPF. This would result in the seconded officer benefiting from two (2) sets of leave. This is an anomaly that the Public Service Commission ought to correct.

The anomaly
An officer who would normally receive forty-five (45) days’ vacation leave with the Police Force and forty-two (42) days’ in his assigned position thereby accumulating ninety-seven (97) days’ vacation leave. This is the point of contention. By analogy should an officer receive two salaries when he is assigned or seconded?

Historically, officers have accumulated leave in both positions either via administrative oversight or misconstruing the interpretation of the law in relation to vacation leave.

It is the Public Service Commission, who has the authority to grant leave in the above circumstances and not the COP. The COP’s duty is to forward all leave applications to the Public Service Commission for consideration and he is merely an administrative conduit for that purpose. The COP’s leave is also governed by the Public Service Commission.

The following would be my recommendation:

Recommendation
(1). That regulations be promulgated to clarify the grant of leave to officers who are secondment or on assignment.

(2). That it be made clear that officers who are seconded or assigned should be considered for promotion within the rank of the RGPF.

(3). The officers who had a legitimate expectation that they would benefit from both leave entitlements (RGPF and seconded position) be granted such leave.

(4). However, from the date of the regulations mentioned in paragraph 1 above the officers should benefit from the most favourable vacation leave.

Derick F. Sylvester
Practising Attorney-at-Law
Chairman of the Public Service Commission 2013-2018

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