Officer who challenged transfer calls on CoP to dismiss ‘baseless’ disciplinary complaints

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

A POLICE officer who challenged a transfer from the Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) to another unit in a lawsuit against Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher now intends to file a separate protest against two disciplinary charges laid after he went to court for answers.

His attorneys have asked that the commissioner dismiss the complaints and the disciplinary proceedings as they are without merit and unlawful.

If they are not, the officer’s attorneys will apply to the High Court to have the proceedings stayed while he challenges the lawfulness of the action.

The complaints against him stemmed from two alleged incidents in June 2023, after which he was transferred from the PSB to another unit.

In March, he was allowed to pursue his request for the commissioner’s reasons for his transfer and why he received a warning notice.

At that time, the warning notice alleged shortcomings in his performance at the PSB. He was told any further breaches would result in disciplinary action.

He was also told that his performance would be reviewed on August 31, 2023, but his lawsuit said he was not allowed to make representations on any of the alleged shortcomings or given specific details of the allegations against him.

The two complaints were filed against him on May 3. They alleged he “stated a deliberate falsehood” when he requested time off from an inspector to attend a medical appointment and failed to submit a report to the then-head of the PSB, now DCP Suzette Martin.

On May 8, attorney Gisanne Ramjit challenged the second complaint. She said he was already cleared by the police’s complaints division on August 28, 2023, and told he committed no breach and the matter was now closed.

He denied the first complaint, saying he did not request time off for a medical appointment but wanted time off to make a medical appointment.

“Therefore, no allegation that our client made a statement with deliberate falsehood can be maintained against our client.”

Ramjit expressed concern that the complaints were laid almost a year after the allegations. She also labelled them as “trivial and baseless,” pointing out that they were only laid after his lawsuit over his transfer.

“It is plain that the complaints were laid and that the disciplinary procedure was commenced, to provide ex post facto (after the fact) reasoning and justification for the otherwise unlawful decision of the Commissioner of Police to transfer our client out of the Professional Standards Bureau.

“In those circumstances, the complaints and the disciplinary procedure appear to be tainted with impropriety, motivated by malice, punitive in nature, were made in excess of authority and by abuse of power and are liable to be quashed in a court of law.”

Ramjit said the complaints should be closed and the ongoing disciplinary proceedings dismissed because they are “without merit, abusive and unlawful.”

Also representing the officer are attorneys Michael Rooplal and Kristy Mohan.