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Is the potential lawsuit against Governor Davis a slam dunk?

Will this result in a lawsuit against Governor Davis?

Derona-Semper

Derona-Semper

Derona Semper and Albert Williams

Albert Williams

His Excellency the Governor Adrian Davis was somewhat evasive when responding to questions from the media about the recent demotions of two senior police officers in the Royal Montserrat Police Service.

The questions arose after reports that acting inspectors Derona Semper and Albert Williams were both given letters indicating the reduction in their ranks from Inspector to Sergeant following extended probationary periods spanning more than two years.

The letter dated the 27th January, 2014 reads:

YOUR PROBATIONARY APPOINTMENT AS INSPECTOR

1.         The police records show that you have been on probation at the temporary rank of Inspector for over two years due to an extension of your probation period. This is pursuant to section 12 of the Police Act Cap 10.01. Although your probation is due to expire shortly, you are still on probation.

2.         The Executive Management of the RMPS and I have consulted with regards to your permanent appointment to the rank of Inspector. It is agreed that your current state of development falls short of the competency and/or integrity threshold for an officer at such a rank. Your professional behavior, performance, and cohesiveness with the senior management team has failed to demonstrate a steady rate of improvement. In addition, you have been placed on an “integrity notice” which includes the voluntary acknowledgment that your duties would be limited or restricted.

3.         Having regard to the above, I consider that you are currently not likely to become an efficient or well conducted police officer while performing the duties of an Inspector. In accordance with the provisions set out at section 12 of the Police Act Cap 10:01, your service as an Inspector is no longer required. I hereby inform that you will return to your substantive rank of Sergeant with the Royal Montserrat Police Service with effect from tomorrow, 28 January 2014.

4.         You are to make immediate arrangements to exchange your Gazetted Officers kit and uniform with the appropriate Sergeants uniform of the day. In addition, please ensure you consult with the Commissioner of the Police for assignment to your new duties.

Adrian Davis
Governor
Montserrat

cc  Commissioner of Police Steve Foster
Deputy Commissioner Bradley Siddell
FCO Police Adviser Larry Covington

Governor Adrian Davis

Governor Adrian Davis

His Excellency Governor Davis’ stated sought to justify his actions by stating at the February press conference “My interpretation is that they were on probation as Inspectors, their appointments were not confirmed and they have now reverted, not been demoted to their substantive ranks as sergeants.  What was said in the letter is accurate.  They have taken legal advice…  In those circumstances, I am not going to make any comment because once they have taken legal advice then the process needs to be followed.  There is also an appeal process within the police and it’s really an internal police matter.

Attorney-at-law for the Officers David Brandt highlighted the obvious disregard for the procedural law concerning the confirmation of Officers as Inspectors.  In a public statement aired on Radio Montserrat, he stated the Governor was mistaken when he said that the officers were not appointed.  He pointed out section 12 of the Police Act which states:

Every police officer above the rank of a subordinate police officer shall be on probation during the first two years after his appointment or for such longer period, not exceeding six months, as the Governor may in his discretion approve; and if during such period, or any extension thereof, he is found not to be fitted physically or mentally, to perform the duties of his office, or to be not likely to become an efficient or well conducted police officer, his services may be dispensed with, in the case of the Superintendent, by the Governor; in the case of an Assistant Superintendent or an Inspector by the Governor after Consultation with the Public Service Commission and, in the case of an Inspector, by the Governor. At the end of the period of probation, or any extension thereof, if the services of such police officer have not been dispensed with, he shall be confirmed in his appointment.”

Having regard to that section, Mr. Brandt contends that his client Albert Williams on September 8, 2011 received a letter from the Human Resources Management Unit stating “I am pleased to advise that your application for the position of Inspector of police in the Royal Montserrat Police Service was successful and the Honorable Deputy Governor has approved your appointment as Inspector.”  This clearly demonstrates that the Governor was clearly mistaken in that there is a mandatory probationary period of two years.

Moreover, Brandt says that the Governor has a discretion to confirm his clients appointment or extend the probationary period immediately at the end of the two years.

Brandt further contends that his client’s probation ended on the September 15, 2013 and there was no indication from the Governor that his clients were not fit or likely to become an efficient well conducted officer.  Failing such indication, Brandt say they must abide by the law and confirm the appointments of his clients having regard to the section which clearly states “At the end of the period of probation, or any extension thereof, if the services of such police officer have not been dispensed with, he shall be confirmed in his appointment.”

Mr. Brandt also intends to challenge the Governor’s powers to create a performance and development review form, polygraph tests and created a document titled “RMPS Policies and Procedure”.  Such powers Brandt says, must be made by the Governor in Council.  Mr. Brandt is calling on the Governor to confirm his clients, failing which he will be seeking judicial review on behalf of his clients.

Brandt, in his letter to the Governor in respect of Derona Semper, before demanding that  his client be confirmed in the rank of Inspector in the RMPS, pointed out, “the document delivered to his client relating to the polygraph tests clearly states that it should be discussed with my client by the Commissioner or his Deputy before an Integrity Notice was issued. This was never done.”

He then cited: “Mr. Siddle (Siddell) was involved in a motor accident with a civilian and my client sent him a Notice of Intended Prosecution as required by law. Because of this he should not have assessed my client.”

Meanwhile, when asked if he was happy that due process was followed, Governor Davis said he thought that it would be inappropriate to answer that question. He says it is something that is being raised by the legal representative of the two officers in question, which they are taking steps to carefully address. He suggested that Sergeants Semper and Williams should they wish to, proceed to give their sides of the story.

In the meantime, staff morale at the RMPS has reached an all-time low with officers reporting that several measures have been put in place which are inconsistent with principles of administrative law.  An example of such measure is the temporary transfer of junior officers who are according to Siddell “habitually challenged by less than satisfactory performance and/or disobedience to senior police officers as an alternative formal discipline.” The officers were informed that they would be relegated to the duties of the General Office Officer which will include “but not limited to traffic sign erecting, cell cleaning, stores clean up, grounds clean up, maintenance of facilities, vehicle cleaning and care, marine maintenance… etc.

 

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Will this result in a lawsuit against Governor Davis?

Derona-Semper

Derona-Semper

Derona Semper and Albert Williams

Albert Williams

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His Excellency the Governor Adrian Davis was somewhat evasive when responding to questions from the media about the recent demotions of two senior police officers in the Royal Montserrat Police Service.

The questions arose after reports that acting inspectors Derona Semper and Albert Williams were both given letters indicating the reduction in their ranks from Inspector to Sergeant following extended probationary periods spanning more than two years.

The letter dated the 27th January, 2014 reads:

YOUR PROBATIONARY APPOINTMENT AS INSPECTOR

1.         The police records show that you have been on probation at the temporary rank of Inspector for over two years due to an extension of your probation period. This is pursuant to section 12 of the Police Act Cap 10.01. Although your probation is due to expire shortly, you are still on probation.

2.         The Executive Management of the RMPS and I have consulted with regards to your permanent appointment to the rank of Inspector. It is agreed that your current state of development falls short of the competency and/or integrity threshold for an officer at such a rank. Your professional behavior, performance, and cohesiveness with the senior management team has failed to demonstrate a steady rate of improvement. In addition, you have been placed on an “integrity notice” which includes the voluntary acknowledgment that your duties would be limited or restricted.

3.         Having regard to the above, I consider that you are currently not likely to become an efficient or well conducted police officer while performing the duties of an Inspector. In accordance with the provisions set out at section 12 of the Police Act Cap 10:01, your service as an Inspector is no longer required. I hereby inform that you will return to your substantive rank of Sergeant with the Royal Montserrat Police Service with effect from tomorrow, 28 January 2014.

4.         You are to make immediate arrangements to exchange your Gazetted Officers kit and uniform with the appropriate Sergeants uniform of the day. In addition, please ensure you consult with the Commissioner of the Police for assignment to your new duties.

Adrian Davis
Governor
Montserrat

cc  Commissioner of Police Steve Foster
Deputy Commissioner Bradley Siddell
FCO Police Adviser Larry Covington

Governor Adrian Davis

Governor Adrian Davis

His Excellency Governor Davis’ stated sought to justify his actions by stating at the February press conference “My interpretation is that they were on probation as Inspectors, their appointments were not confirmed and they have now reverted, not been demoted to their substantive ranks as sergeants.  What was said in the letter is accurate.  They have taken legal advice…  In those circumstances, I am not going to make any comment because once they have taken legal advice then the process needs to be followed.  There is also an appeal process within the police and it’s really an internal police matter.

Attorney-at-law for the Officers David Brandt highlighted the obvious disregard for the procedural law concerning the confirmation of Officers as Inspectors.  In a public statement aired on Radio Montserrat, he stated the Governor was mistaken when he said that the officers were not appointed.  He pointed out section 12 of the Police Act which states:

Every police officer above the rank of a subordinate police officer shall be on probation during the first two years after his appointment or for such longer period, not exceeding six months, as the Governor may in his discretion approve; and if during such period, or any extension thereof, he is found not to be fitted physically or mentally, to perform the duties of his office, or to be not likely to become an efficient or well conducted police officer, his services may be dispensed with, in the case of the Superintendent, by the Governor; in the case of an Assistant Superintendent or an Inspector by the Governor after Consultation with the Public Service Commission and, in the case of an Inspector, by the Governor. At the end of the period of probation, or any extension thereof, if the services of such police officer have not been dispensed with, he shall be confirmed in his appointment.”

Having regard to that section, Mr. Brandt contends that his client Albert Williams on September 8, 2011 received a letter from the Human Resources Management Unit stating “I am pleased to advise that your application for the position of Inspector of police in the Royal Montserrat Police Service was successful and the Honorable Deputy Governor has approved your appointment as Inspector.”  This clearly demonstrates that the Governor was clearly mistaken in that there is a mandatory probationary period of two years.

Moreover, Brandt says that the Governor has a discretion to confirm his clients appointment or extend the probationary period immediately at the end of the two years.

Brandt further contends that his client’s probation ended on the September 15, 2013 and there was no indication from the Governor that his clients were not fit or likely to become an efficient well conducted officer.  Failing such indication, Brandt say they must abide by the law and confirm the appointments of his clients having regard to the section which clearly states “At the end of the period of probation, or any extension thereof, if the services of such police officer have not been dispensed with, he shall be confirmed in his appointment.”

Mr. Brandt also intends to challenge the Governor’s powers to create a performance and development review form, polygraph tests and created a document titled “RMPS Policies and Procedure”.  Such powers Brandt says, must be made by the Governor in Council.  Mr. Brandt is calling on the Governor to confirm his clients, failing which he will be seeking judicial review on behalf of his clients.

Brandt, in his letter to the Governor in respect of Derona Semper, before demanding that  his client be confirmed in the rank of Inspector in the RMPS, pointed out, “the document delivered to his client relating to the polygraph tests clearly states that it should be discussed with my client by the Commissioner or his Deputy before an Integrity Notice was issued. This was never done.”

He then cited: “Mr. Siddle (Siddell) was involved in a motor accident with a civilian and my client sent him a Notice of Intended Prosecution as required by law. Because of this he should not have assessed my client.”

Meanwhile, when asked if he was happy that due process was followed, Governor Davis said he thought that it would be inappropriate to answer that question. He says it is something that is being raised by the legal representative of the two officers in question, which they are taking steps to carefully address. He suggested that Sergeants Semper and Williams should they wish to, proceed to give their sides of the story.

In the meantime, staff morale at the RMPS has reached an all-time low with officers reporting that several measures have been put in place which are inconsistent with principles of administrative law.  An example of such measure is the temporary transfer of junior officers who are according to Siddell “habitually challenged by less than satisfactory performance and/or disobedience to senior police officers as an alternative formal discipline.” The officers were informed that they would be relegated to the duties of the General Office Officer which will include “but not limited to traffic sign erecting, cell cleaning, stores clean up, grounds clean up, maintenance of facilities, vehicle cleaning and care, marine maintenance… etc.