Former top cop weighs in on police disciplinary procedures

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Former Assistant Commissioner of Police Nuffield Burnett
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Former Police Commissioner Nuffield Burnette has raised questions over the way law enforcement officials deal with disciplining fellow officers.

  Burnette’s comments stem from a widely circulated video of a female officer who appeared to be shoplifting in a local supermarket.

According to reports, following the release of the video, there were countless appeals to Commissioner of Police Atlee Rodney for leniency on behalf of the middle-aged corporal, followed by claims that she’d been asked to resign instead of being fired.

The issue is said to have divided opinions among local police as well as civilians, with some saying she should be fired and even charged for her crime.

But Burnette is of the opinion that a thorough investigation should be carried out before any final decision is made.

This, he explained, should be the standard across the board for all matters involving police officers.

“I think we are a bit ahead of ourselves in terms of the procedure that should actually be followed. All those other arguments about, if she should be allowed to get pension and all that stuff, is not necessary. Those are not things you just call into being. The Commissioner of Police cannot make those calls.

“I have not heard of an investigation. I have not heard of adjudication of the case and then we going to speak about deciding whether persons get pension or not, or if she should resign. We are a little ahead of ourselves in terms of what should happen to the officer,” Burnette said.

He added that, in any such matter, once an investigation is completed and the officers in question are found guilty that they should be charged and a hearing held to determine the next step.

Former President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Welfare Association Brenton Smith was not only in agreement with Burnette but also spoke on the importance of having stricter policies in place within the police force to deal with these matters in a swift and transparent way.

Displaying a high level of professionalism and transparency when dealing with such issues, he said, will help law enforcement retain the confidence of the people.

“We are trusted with a high level of responsibility and members of the community expect a certain standard from police officers, and in so doing the code of conduct and ethics must be at the forefront.

“This is why I believe that police forces need to have strong policies that will guide them so when situations like these arise, it’s not going to be a difficult one for the Commissioner or the persons who are responsible for dealing with it,” Smith said.

Regarding the female officer, Smith cautioned the public to not condemn her before all the information is gathered surrounding the matter.

He added that everyone is “innocent until proven guilty” and, without knowing the full facts of the case, the officer should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Police spokesman Acting Assistant Superintendent Frankie Thomas confirmed to Observer last night that investigations into the incident remain underway.

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