By Kadeem Joseph
A retired high-ranking officer of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda is stressing the need for a “thorough investigation” into controversial allegations made recently by a sitting Member of Parliament (MP).
On Sunday, MP for All Saints West Michael Browne claimed that a police officer sought to extort him in exchange for quashing criminal charges against him.
Browne was acquitted of the charges last week, the nature of which cannot be repeated due to statutory limitations.
In a press statement on Monday, the police said the allegations are “viewed to be very serious” and noted that they have requested that Browne provide information on the incident so that an internal investigation can be initiated into the matter.
Former Assistant Commissioner of Police Nuffield Burnett believes the RPFAB must investigate the accusation in order to ensure public confidence in the organisation is maintained.
“In this case somebody is making the allegation who the police can find in a tangible form, but even when you hear things that are so detrimental and so incriminating, the police’s role is to go out themselves and seek to find the evidence or information all because it is important to investigate these things so they are not left [hanging],” he stated further.
Burnett added that the matter should be pursued speedily, even without Browne’s assistance, since the allegation of wrongdoing by the police has already been publicised.
He further explained that officers are held to a higher standard than civilians since they are responsible for upholding the law.
“The police ought to be a noble organisation and that is why the ‘sins’ of that organisation are greater than other sins and that is why they ought to be pursued with much more vigour than other sins are pursued,” he added.
On Monday, the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel Hurst, said that an investigation into the issue was not warranted and could ultimately be harmful.
But Burnett rebutted Hurst’s suggestion, adding that such a decision rests in the hands of the Commissioner of Police.
He said if the Commissioner is “tardy”, the Attorney General should intervene.
The retired officer said that the Police Service Commission also has a responsibility to press matters of this nature to ensure that “the police are kept on their feet”.