Police Commissioner Gary Griffith had to halt the planned promotion of 39 sergeants to the rank of inspector after being served with an injunction filed by 29 officers who are challenging the order of merit list.
Griffith, at the promotion ceremony for assistant commissioners of police and senior superintendents at the Police Academy on Tuesday, referred to the court action saying that far too many matters are filed by police officers over grievances over overtime, transfers and other administrative issues.
He said since assuming office in August 2018 he had been served with over 240 lawsuits, many from police officers, and while it was the legal right of officers to challenge him he urged for a change in mindset. The latest case comes up for hearing before Justice Betsy-Ann Lambert-Peterson on Wednesday.
Griffith said the volume of court cases led him to spend more time in court than running the police service. He said the system had to change or else it would stagnate the service, especially when it comes to discipline. He said the court was running the police service more than him.
He urged officers to put service before self and help bring that needed change to the service to improve checks and balances, manage performance and make officers accountable.
At Tuesday’s ceremony, Griffith said it was the first time in over a decade that all of the assistant commissioners of police (ACP) and senior superintendents were confirmed in their ranks. Many of them have been acting for years. Nine officers were confirmed to the rank of assistant commissioner while another 27 were confirmed to the rank of senior superintendent, 40 to the rank of superintendent, and 39 to the rank of assistant superintendent.
Griffith told the new appointees that the promotion was not a Christmas gift but they each deserved the elevation based on their hard work and dedication to duty.
Among the officers promoted to the rank of ACP was Totaram Dookhie who is under investigation on charges of kidnapping and threatening a man with a gun, but the matter is still under review by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Joan Honore-Paul.
Dookhie, together with Wendell Williams, McDonald Jacob, Anthony James, Beverly Lewis, Joanne Archie, Inraj Balram and Pamela Schullera-Hinds, will now form part of the executive of the service.
Jacob, who is expected to go on pre-retirement leave in January, will continue to act as a deputy commissioner alongside Lewis and James until Parliament approves the short-listed candidates.
Among the officers leading the order of merit list to be submitted to the Police Service Commission by year’s end to fill one of the three vacancies of deputy commissioner, is Insp Mark Hernandez – head of the Special Operations Response Team.
On December 16, a batch of 91sergeants were promoted to the rank of inspector.