Categorized | National News

New Law Gives Tenure To Police Chief

While the government touted its new legislation giving tenure to the positions of commissioner and deputy commissioner of police as a means of removing political interference from those posts, Opposition members maintained that the new law passed yesterday will impede growth within the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).

National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage led the government’s debate on amendments to the Police Force Act of 2009 that pertain directly to the positions of commissioner and deputy commissioner of police in the House of Assembly Wednesday.

Under the law passed in 2009, the holders of the top two positions of the RBPF were appointed to those positions for a five-year period. The law also allowed for their terms to be extended for a period no longer than five years.

Dr. Nottage said that the previous law gave too much power to the prime minister and interfered with the commissioner’s ability to effectively carry out his duties.

Furthermore, the national security minister said that the previous provision was unconstitutional and he argued that the law passed in 2009 compromised the commissioner’s ability to be impartial.

“What is more unthinkable, really is that after passing the provision which purports to give the prime minister the effective authority to fire the commissioner of police, they [the Opposition] accuse others of interfering with the [RBPF] – unbelievable,” Dr. Nottage said.

“What is equally damning about the passage of this provision is that the then government lacked legislative authority in that manner. No government under our constitutional democracy is empowered to change the constitution without evoking the procedures as contained in the document.”

Dr. Nottage said the amendments passed yesterday now give tenure to both the commissioner and deputy commissioner and it erases efforts of the previous administration to politicise those positions.

However, Opposition Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama Neko Grant opposed the amendments and he defended the provisions passed under the previous administration.

Mr. Grant said that by setting term limits, the then government sought to ensure that there was opportunity for younger qualified police officers to be elevated to leadership positions with the RBPF.

“There is sound reasoning for this progressive provision,” Mr. Grant said. “If the succession by promotion rule is followed and if permitted to serve until 65-years-old, it was quite possible that a commissioner or deputy commissioner of police could serve for 15 years or 20 years.

“It is our firm position that these two important offices should not be so open-ended. Critical leadership positions such as commissioner and deputy commissioner of police should change periodically to ensure that new vision, ideas and innovations are introduced in to the force at the highest level and on a continuous basis.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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