The sergeant of police who was last year transferred and brought up on internal disciplinary charges after suggesting that members of his executive “storm” the office of the prime minister, has been re-elected chair of the Police Welfare Association.
Sergeant Brenton Smith was re-elected along with police constables, Jeremain Roberts and Kenroy Martin, who were also transferred after the comments were made public.
Martin was also brought up on internal disciplinary charges, which are also yet to be disposed of.
iWitness News understands that the Police Force decided to discipline the men internally after prosecutors determined that they could not be brought up on criminal charges for the comments.
The comments were made in WhatsApp voice notes and circulated among members of the executive who were discussing strategies to get the police force to address issues affecting officers.
In one of the voice notes, Smith suggested that the executive no longer wait for an appointment to see Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Ralph Gonsalves. He further said that the executive should not send a delegation but that the entire leadership of the Police Welfare Association should “storm” the office of the prime minister and outline their needs to him.
Many observers say that the men’s comments were purposely taken out of context and used to suggest that they had violent intentions towards the prime minister.
Smith told iWitness News that his re-election was “a humbling feeling” but wasn’t unexpected.
“The members have spoken. They know exactly what they want. I think the executive is a strong executive; I think also we got rid of the snitch. So I am happy for that. The snitch knows who he or she is,” he said, referring to the person who allegedly leaked the voice recording to the authorities.
Smith said his re-election is also a commentary on the charges brought against him and Martin as a result of the leaked conversation.
“I think persons were angry with those charges because they know that we meant well as an executive.”
In the voice recordings, the executive was discussing the conditions at some police station, the leave system and whether police officers (including Coast Guard personnel) are insured while travelling in the pan of police trucks vehicles and on Coast Guard vessels
“Our motto has always been to be respectful to the authorities but yet challenge the system where it is needed and that’s what we did,” Smith said of the developments last year.
He said that this year, police officers gave him and his executive “a mandate to continue the fight.
“Our fight is not a physical one but rather one where we can work together. And I do hope that the new leadership of the organisation would be willing to work along with us, because we are willing to work with them.”
The new acting police chief, Colin John, in his first general meeting with police officers on Jan. 18 congratulated the new executive and members of the Police Welfare Association.
John said he intends to forge a very constructive and productive relationship with the Police Welfare Association.
He urged the members of the association to continue to support the work of the Police Force.
Smith told iWitness News that it is impossible for the improvement of the police force to take place if the hierarchy and the rank and file are working against each other.
“The hierarchy of the organisation and the Welfare need to work together in order for us to benefit,” he said.
Smith said that the new executive will be focusing on pension reform, which he said is going to be a very touchy issue that needs to be dealt with.
The general leave system within the police force will also be an area of focus.
“And I think that the new leadership is aware of this and has already scheduled a meeting to deal with this and restructure the way police officers work,” he told iWitness News.
“There’s a need for more time to be spent with their families, and the organisation. You have to be able to balance both. It cannot be that the organisation alone benefits and members suffer.”
The full executive is as follows:
- Brenton Smith Sgt 509
- Daniel Prescott Sgt 729
- Mark Billy Sgt 776
- Biorn Duncan Cpl 740
- Roxanne Ralph Cpl 557
- Collin May Cpl 328
- Lez Harry Cpl 173
- Kenroy Martin PC 590
- Rohan Holder PC 733
- Douglas Caesar PC 192
- Jeremain Roberts PC 647
- Carlson Hacksaw PC 582
General Secretary Devon Bute PC 38