Will ACP Frances Henry fol­low in Fran­cois foot­steps?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

IRankin Kop­per t is un­likely any­one will have for­got­ten the hoopla when in Oc­to­ber 2014 As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Frances Henry was boosted to the post of Act­ing Deputy Com­mis­sioner—the first lo­cal fe­male po­lice of­fi­cer to have at­tained such sta­tus. For many, Henry’s el­e­va­tion rep­re­sented how far we as a na­tion had come with re­spect to gen­der equal­ity.

Henry cer­tainly had ev­ery rea­son to take pride in her achieve­ment and to thank the author­i­ties for hav­ing rec­og­nized her ded­i­ca­tion to duty all these years. A vet­eran of over thirty years’ ser­vice, she gave this op­por­tu­nity to serve as deputy her best shot, with the rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion that she would ac­tu­ally be the first fe­male to serve in the sub­stan­tive rank of Deputy Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice. Her next rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion would nat­u­rally have been to be Saint Lu­cia’s first fe­male Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice. Or even the first act­ing fe­male com­mis­sioner.

How­ever, all such hopes proved in vain. On All Fools Day 2015, in con­tra­dic­tion of all the hype that had ac­com­pa­nied her el­e­va­tion, she was qui­etly dropped to her sub­stan­tive rank of As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner. Ap­par­ently her ear­lier pro­mot­ers failed to no­tice. At any rate, there was from them, as our deputy prime min­is­ter likes to say, not a word, not a word, not a word. Oh how fickle we are!

Her ef­fec­tive de­mo­tion must’ve come as a shock to the hard­work­ing Frances Henry. Ms Henry was, and still is, the only con­firmed As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, se­nior to all other pos­si­ble chal­lengers. In ad­di­tion, as deputy, her im­me­di­ate su­per­vi­sor would have been Com­mis­sioner Fran­cois. In­ci­den­tally, Mr. Fran­cois never once in­di­cated he found her per­for­mance be­low par. By memo dated 15th Jan­uary, 2015 Com­mis­sioner Fran­cois rec­om­mended that the Public Ser­vice Com­mis­sion per­mit Henry to con­tinue act­ing as deputy. His rec­om­men­da­tion fell on deaf ears. In­stead Henry was made a sub­or­di­nate of her sub­or­di­nate, Su­per­in­ten­dent Moncherry. She was also sum­mar­ily trans­ferred from the crime di­vi­sion and charged with re­spon­si­bil­ity for Ter­ri­to­rial Polic­ing (dis­trict po­lice sta­tions)—a de­mo­tion in the eyes of many.

Henry de­voted four years or so as as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner in charge of the crime di­vi­sion. Dur­ing her ten­ure the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force made sig­nif­i­cant head­way. The solved-crime rate reached its high­est for both sum­mary and se­ri­ous of­fenses. The less said about the cur­rent crime su­per­in­ten­dent, the bet­ter. While ap­pear­ing re­cently on a TV show he left the im­pres­sion he had no idea what is a cold case.

Some per­ti­nent ques­tions need to be an­swered by the rel­e­vant author­i­ties: who changed Com­mis­sioner Fran­cois’ rec­om­men­da­tion so as to side­line Frances Henry? Did Fran­cois’ rec­om­men­da­tion ever make it to the Public Ser­vice Com­mis­sion? What roles did politi­cians play in this mat­ter? When the com­mis­sioner of po­lice sub­mits a rec­om­men­da­tion for ap­point­ment by the PSC, is it law­ful for any­one to in­ter­fere with it?

I am re­li­ably in­formed that, in the not too dis­tant fu­ture, we can ex­pect le­gal prece­dent to be set on those is­sues, a su­per­in­ten­dent of po­lice hav­ing filed a par­tic­u­lar law­suit against the gov­ern­ment. I am also re­li­ably in­formed that there are other of­fi­cers with sim­i­lar or per­haps worse griev­ances whose lawyers are mon­i­tor­ing the filed case.

The word is that the gov­ern­ment in­tends to per­suade Frances Henry, cur­rently on leave, to take early re­tire­ment. Will it be an of­fer too good to refuse?

As of Thurs­day Frances Henry is of­fi­cially on leave.

Sources in­di­cate “She was not asked to do so!”

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