Head of the Police Welfare Association in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Station Sergeant Brenton Smith was informed today (Wednesday) that he was deemed to have resigned his job as a police officer.
Smith, who has been a police officer for 27 years, did not comply with the government’s mandate that police officers, and a wide cross-section of public sector workers, deemed “frontline employees”, vaccinate against a COVID-19 if they are to continue in their jobs.
He, however, told iWitness News that he does not consider himself as having resigned and would challenge the government’s decision.
“I have been fired,” Smith told iWitness News in a telephone interview.
He told iWitness News that the letter informing him of the government’s decision was hand delivered by a sergeant of police.
The Dec. 8 letter, signed by the Chief Personnel Officer, Arlene Regisford-Sam, was copied to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, the Commissioner of Police, the Director General — Finance, the Accountant General, the Director of Audit, and the Comptroller, Inland Revenue Department.
“I have to inform you that the Police Service Commission has noted that you, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with Rule 5 of the Public Health (Public Bodies Special Measures) Rules 2021,” Regisford-Sam’s letter said.
It said that as a result of Smith’s failure to comply with the rule, he had been absent from duty without leave Since Nov. 22, pursuant to Rule 8 of the rules.
“Accordingly, on behalf of the Police Service Commission, I have to inform you that you are deemed to have resigned your office with effect from December 7th, 2021, and have ceased to be an officer, in accordance with Section 73A of the Police Act, Chapter 391 of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
“On behalf of the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, I would like to thank you for the service you have rendered during your period of employment, and, also, to wish you success in the future,” Regisford-Sam said.
Smith told iWitness News he was not surprised to have received the letter, as lower-ranked officers had received similar letters from Commissioner of Police Colin John on Tuesday.
Smith said he has seven days in which to appeal and he intends to do so. “I think all of the persons who received letters, I would advise them as well to appeal it.”
He told iWitness News that he is still unvaccinated and “for what I am seeing now, not at all” does he have any plans to get vaccinated in the near future.
“Based on what I am seeing out of England, they’re talking about a third shot which really gonna make them fully vaccinated. That’s not even the booster. I think Pfizer sent out something today as well saying that the fourth shot is basically a booster shot.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Pfizer said that “preliminary laboratory studies demonstrate that three doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine neutralise the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529 lineage) while two doses show significantly reduced neutralisation titers”.
“So why am I going to be injecting myself like that? I am not going to be doing that. I won’t do that. It is only a matter of time to prove that the vaccine is not as safe as they want to tell us. It is not as safe as they predicted. It is not.”
He noted that the letter did not say anything about his benefits.
“I think the other letters from the commissioner’s level spoke of persons receiving their benefits. This one did not say anything about it. But I will say this again, if the government thinks that they want my benefits more than I, let them have it. I’ll fight, you know; I’ll fight because I still have a family but at this time, I am not worried about benefits.
“I am worried about the road that we are heading down as a country, as a police force. So, if my benefits are going to open the eyes of other persons, that’s what I want. Because it is never about Brenton Smith. It is never about me being individualistic about how Vincentians are becoming these days. This is a broader issue than me and my benefits. Yes, of course, there can be economic challenges and difficulties. But, whoever said that this world was going to be an easy one?”
Smith told iWitness News that about 13 people have received “dismissal” letters from the police chief as a result of the mandate and some officers are still awaiting responses to their application for medical or religious exemptions from taking the vaccine.
Smith was fired nine days after he appeared in court, as a station sergeant of police — even after the mandate came into effect and he was unvaccinated — and testified in a matter on behalf of the prosecution.
The rule under which he was fired, considered him to have been absent from work even on the day when he testified in court.
Asked if he would testify on behalf of the Crown in matters that are still pending, Smith told iWitness News:
“I have a responsibility to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to see that justice is being done and they are not to be faulted for what is happening here to me. So I will still go to court, I will give evidence on behalf of the Crown because I believe that is the right thing for me to do. There are too many innocent persons outside there that need justice and if I can be part of that, giving evidence so that justice can be done, I will continue to do so.