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Call for overhaul of Special Branch

File photo of police officers during a military parade display at the National Sporting Stadium at Queen’s Park

A retired senior Police Officer has called on the 19-month old National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell to do an urgent overhaul of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) including the key Special Branch Department.

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY, the ex-cop who served for over 25 years in the service charged that the Police Force is not functioning in an effective and efficient manner in terms of addressing many of the issues pertaining to National Security.

He said that several officers attached to the unit engage him often in conversation and inform him about the myriad of problems within the unit.

“The Special Branch is totally in disarray. The whole Special Branch needs to be revamped,” he said.

According to the retired cop, he has reasons to believe that the High Command members of RGPF are not taking the work of the Special Branch Department in National Security matters seriously.

“There are some old guards from the previous government who are known to be pro-NNP (New National Party) that (are) still entrenched in the Special Branch,” he said.

The ex-senior police officer also said that several officers within the Special Branch unit are disgruntled and “just going through the motion” due to their disappointment with being overlooked in the recent promotion exercise undertaken by Acting Commissioner of Police Don McKenzie.

In addition, he said the majority of officers attached to Special Branch “are not trained in intelligence gathering” to really perform in the job.

He also cited the lack of transportation as one of the major issues affecting the work of the Special Branch unit.

The ex-cop called for a relook at the person who is currently running the Special Branch Department.

“Yes, he (name withheld) might have a little knowledge about personal assistance like a Personal Security officer – bodyguard type of thing but the in-depth intelligence where he has to create that type of motivation to the workers and them (is lacking) – he is more on the spiritual side,” he said.

According to the ex-cop, he is confident that if “a secret survey” is done into the operation of the Special Branch “you will hear how much complaints (there are) and all the complaints are falling on deaf ears.”

He also raised concerns with what he referred to “as a lapse” in terms of the relationship existing between the Special Branch chief and the current Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell in terms of frequent engagement in discussions.

“This Security Chief does not have to wait on the Commissioner of Police to have an audience with the Prime Minister. He is supposed to brief the Prime Minister fortnightly or maybe weekly how he sees it fit but there seems to be a bottleneck in terms of him having dialogue with the Security Advisor, with the Prime Minister who is the Minister of National Security and the Commissioner (of Police).”.

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The senior cop told THE NEW TODAY that based on his own intelligence he sensed that the current Commissioner of Police is caught up in the middle and formed the impression “as if he (McKenzie) is not taking side in terms of what’s supposed to be done.”

“So the whole Police Special Branch is just going through a motion. Their intelligence is weak – they ain’t getting no report and thing,” he said.

The retired cop pointed to what he said were “little cell meetings” taking place in the country involving the deposed Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell but the Special Branch does not seems to be on top of these happenings.

“All what they (the officers) are doing is driving around in a vehicle and people knowing them because of how they’re operating,” he said.

He also alluded to what appears to be a split within the ranks of the Special Branch Department involving those who are assigned as Personal Security Detail for the Prime Minister and the Special Branch headquarters.

“The people in the Special Branch that are attached to the Prime Minister Detail, they are supposed to be under the purview of the man in charge of Special Branch but it seems as though the same thing that Keith (Mitchell) was doing with the Special Branch people and them – they don’t want to take order and instructions from the Special Branch Chief, so it’s like a 2-department that dey,” he remarked.

“That is something for the National Security Advisor to look into,” he said.

During the 2003-08 period of the Keith Mitchell-led NNP administration in office, the then Commissioner of Police Winston James admitted publicly that the then head of Special Branch Superintendent Anthony DeGale did not report to him on his activities with the unit.

DeGale was often seen on the side of Keith Mitchell and in the aftermath of the devastation of the island by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, the new special Branch chief was called upon to address members of the business community.

Under DeGale’s tenure as head of Special Branch, the officers attached to the unit once formed a human shield around Keith Mitchell to prevent a Court Bailiff from serving a document on him in a court matter.

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