Police officer challenges transfer

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher –

A police officer who was transferred from the Professional Standards Bureau to another unit wants Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher to say why this was done.

He also wants a copy of his personnel file and other documentation relating to his one-year stint with the PSB. The officer, who has more than ten years service, also wants to know why his police-issued firearm was taken from him.

The requests were made earlier in August by attorneys representing the officer.

Attorney Gisanne Ramjit, who along with Michael Rooplal and Kristy Mohan, wrote to the commissioner maintaining that their client was not given any reason of justification for his transfer or a warning notice earlier in June.

He received the warning notice in early June which alleged of shortcomings observed in his performance at the PSB.

The letter said he was told any further breaches would result in disciplinary action. A performance review was expected on August 31, but Ramjit said the client was not invited to make representations on any of the alleged shortcomings or given specific details of the allegations against him.

After receiving the warning notice, the officer was relieved of his police-issued firearm and a file on an investigation he was previously assigned. He was also accused of discussing PSB-related matters with people outside the bureau which he denied.

His personal cell phone was then taken from him.

“At no time did our client authorise the seizure or removal of his personal cell phone from his person nor was he asked to handover the same.”

Ramjit said the client was unaware what was done with his cellphone when it was taken from him since it was unlocked and not password protected.

The next day, the officer was transferred out of PBS to the Gender-based Violence Unit of the Special Victims Department.

“The position to which our client was transferred effectively amounts to a demotion in employment on account of the fact that our client will receive $1,000 less in allowances in this position. Our client is, therefore, prejudiced by the decision to transfer him.”

The letter says while the constitution gives the commissioner the power to transfer any police officer, an order of transfer must be given in writing and contingent on the conclusion of disciplinary proceedings.

“The procedure set out in law for the transfer of officers was not observed in respect of the decision to transfer our client.

“Moreover, in the absence of any disciplinary action, it cannot be maintained that our client was transferred as a result of any disciplinary matter and/or investigation or findings.”

Since Ramjit said no reason or justification was given for the warning notice, relieving him of his firearm and transferring him, they are asking for it now in keeping with provisions of the Judicial Review Act as a person adversely affected by a decision.