Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says he will not confirm or deny whether or not Commissioner of Police Colin John has requested early retirement.
Searchlight newspaper reported on Thursday that John, 55, a lawyer and former prosecutor, who has been the nation’s top cop since 2016, will demit office as the nation’s top cop in early September.
Gonsalves, who is also minister of national security, spoke to the issue while fielding questions at a press conference in Kingstown on Tuesday.
He said he can confirm that the nation’s police chief has not resigned, as some people have said.
“When you are commissioner of police, you stay, you resign or if you haven’t reached retirement age, you seek early retirement,” Gonsalves said.
“I have heard people say that the commissioner of police has resigned. If you are in the Public Service all your life, would you resign and lose your pension?” Gonsalves said.
“It just doesn’t make sense. I don’t know of anything concerning the resignation of Colin John as commissioner of police and I could say emphatically, Colin John has not resigned because it is not within his interest. You just have to know the rules.”
The prime minister noted that the police chief is at an age where it is open to him to ask for early retirement.
“I am not going to comment as to whether the commissioner of police has or has not asked for early retirement. But bear this in mind, if you ask for early retirement, any official, any public official, the Public Service Commission, and in this case, the Police Service Commission, would have to concur, would have to say yes. I am not aware of any such matter…”
Gonsalves, however, noted that he has been involved in the appointment of five commissioners of police and one acting police chief since he came to office in March 2001.
“I am very familiar with section 85 of the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves further said.
He noted that the nation’s supreme law dictates that if an occasion arises for the governor general to appoint a commissioner of police, it is done based on the advice of the Police Service Commission.
However, the Police Service Commission must consult the prime minister and if the prime minister objects to the name that the Police Service Commission is intending to advise the governor general on, the Police Service Commission cannot advise the governor general of that name.
“So, the name which goes to the governor general has to have the approval of the prime minister,” Gonsalves said.
“So, I am familiar with the process and I have been through it several times. I think I have been through it more times since independence than any other person and I am the only living person who has been involved in the appointment of a commissioner of police,” the prime minister said.
“That is my answer to you. I answer that whether the commissioner of police has intimated orally or in writing his request for early retirement, I say to you that I am not either going to confirm or deny that.
“But I explain it because the question was posed as though there was some fait accompli about something which I am not aware of. When that occasion rises, if it arises, if that occasion arises, the country will know.
“At the moment, there is no announcement to be made. When that occasion arises or if that occasion arises, there will be an announcement,” Gonsalves said.