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Officers summoned by CoI were on promotion list that President blocked

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By Leroy Smith

Several senior officers whose names were either mentioned in the ongoing Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into an alleged plot to assassinate President David Granger and who were even called to the stand over the last three weeks, are among the persons who were recommended for promotion by the Guyana Police Force.

Those promotions were blocked by the President, who wrote the Police Service Commission – the constitutional authority responsible for promotions – and asked that all promotions be halted.

The list seen by the News Room shows that the persons tipped for promotions included: Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations) Clifton Hicken for Deputy Commissioner of Police; Crime Chief, Senior Superintendent Wendell Blanhum, for Assistant Commissioner; Head of Special Branch, Brian Eastman, for Senior Superintendent of Police; Head of Major Crimes Unit, Assistant Superintendent Mitchell Caeser, for Deputy Superintendent; and SWAT Unit leader, Deputy Superintendent Lonsdale Withrite, for Superintendent. Withrite was not a subject of the Commission of inquiry.

In a document which was sent to the Police Service Commission to consider for promotions, three Assistant Commissioners of Police were recommended for promotion to Deputy Commissioner of Police, two Senior Superintendents to Assistant Commissioners of Police and three persons for promotion to Senior Superintendent.

In that line up, there were at least three persons who had to interface with the Commission of Inquiry. Added to that, there are others in the lower bracket of the promotion list who are subjects of the ongoing COI.

In a letter sent to the Police Service Commission, President David Granger instructed that the promotions be placed on hold without giving a reason. Earlier this week, the Opposition’s People Progressive Party frowned on the decision by the Head of State and called the move unconstitutional and an abuse by the President of his powers.

Some of the Commissioners on the Police Service Commission reportedly agreed that the President acted outside of the constitution but nevertheless acted on the President’s decision.

A member of the Police Service Commission, who spoke to the News Room and requested anonymity, stated: “It is similar to what is going on in the Parliament with the one seat majority, the president is fully aware of what he is doing. He uses his power in a way that is irresponsible and all because he has the support in Parliament and the support in the agencies he wishes to target.”

The Commissioner stated that inspectors and officers of the Force would have been interviewed for promotional consideration. It was pointed put that the Commission and its members have been working to ensure that the promotion of officers are done on a level playing field and that work would have commenced to clear the backlog of disciplinary matters involving officers which have been lingering from as far back as five years.

The Police Service Commission is expected to meet again on or before August 20, 2017 where several deliberations will be made coming from the report and recommendations of the ongoing CoI.

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