100 cops take promotions board to court

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell –

OVER 100 police constables have taken legal action over the recent police promotion exercise fiasco, which saw some 900 officers elevated to the rank of corporals and resulted in an apology by Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher, who also called for an audit of the published merit list.

Now, 109 constables want the Promotions Advisory Board (PAB) to give them their individual ratings. They also want a reason for the failure to give them their individual scores.

On Thursday, Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell permitted them to pursue their claim against the PAB.

The officers filed their legal action on Tuesday after the PAB repeatedly failed to respond to pre-action letters sent on their behalf by their attorneys, Jagdeo Singh, Karina Singh and Leon Kalicharan.

According to the lawsuit, constables were assessed by the PAB in September 2023, after which a merit and promotions list was published.

A large number of the officers named in the lawsuit have successfully completed the promotions examinations as far back as 2011, but said they have never been assessed by the PAB nor have they been included on the order of merit list. Others have also successfully sat the sergeant examinations but have not been promoted to corporal. The lawsuit said the PAB is required to sit at least every three months to consider promotions but this was not done before some of them were invited to the PAB interviews in September 2023, a decade after they were successful in their examinations.

The lawsuit said in March 2023, a revised list of 2,342 constables eligible for promotion was published, interviews were done in April, and a constitutional motion on behalf of 388 police officers, challenging the unreasonable delay by the PAB to interview them and to interview some of them for the rank of sergeant and other ranks in the second division. Among the 388 are the 109 officers who have filed the judicial review claim. This claim is also on Justice Donaldson-Honeywell’s docket.

The lawsuit said when the merit list was published in September and some 900 constables were promoted to corporal, individual ratings were not provided although an assurance was given in October that they will be as soon as they are available.

The lawsuit said on November 20, the constables learned of a memorandum from Harewood-Christopher to DCP Administration Ramnarine Samaroo about a “revision to the 2023 merit list” because of inaccuracies and a bulletin from the Police Service Social and Welfare Association, which called on the commissioner to address the implications on its membership.

In the memo, Ramnarine was asked to identify the officers erroneously promoted, state the anticipated impact on second-division officers when a revised merit list is published and plan to cushion an anticipated fallout.

On December 6, Harewood-Christopher apologised in a media release for “anomalies in the allocation of marks” in the promotion exercise, advising she had received a report which was being reviewed to determine the “the nature, source, and extent, of any possible anomalies.”

The lawsuit says two months have elapsed since close to 900 constables were promoted, yet none of the 109 have received their marks.