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Commissioner of Police Colin John. (iWN file photo)
Commissioner of Police Colin John. (iWN file photo)

Commissioner of Police Colin John has been approved for early retirement, becoming the first chief of police to leave his post early, since Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party (ULP) came to office on March 28, 2001.

Gonsalves made the announcement on WE FM today (Thursday), ending weeks of speculations that the police chief wanted to quit.

Gonsalves did not say when would be John’s last day on the job, but reports from deep within the police force said that he would leave the organisation on Friday, Sept. 15.

The prime minister, who has constitutional powers to determine who becomes commissioner of police, said a new police chief would be in post by the end of the month.

Last month, after Searchlight newspaper broke the news that John had applied for earlier retirement and would leave the post within weeks, Gonsalves told a press conference that he could not deny nor confirm that this was the case.

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He noted that John, 55, was qualified for early retirement, but added that this must be approved by the Police Service Commission. 

“Well, yesterday, the Police Service Commission informed me that he had asked for early retirement and they had processed it,” Gonsalves said on WE FM’s Shake-up.

“Of course, I have to be involved in the mix. … I can tell you now that he requested early retirement and the Police Service Commission has agreed to grant him his early retirement,” said Gonsalves, who as minister of national security, has ministerial responsibility for the constabulary.

“I can talk that now because the Police Service Commission contacted me. That’s the institution. And then, of course, the next thing is that the announcement will come sometime, certainly by the end of the month, when the institution again gets into work — that is to say the Police Service Commission, the Prime Minister and the Governor General — for the appointment of a commissioner or acting commissioner. Because that’s what the Constitution says.”

Gonsalves, who is also a lawyer, noted that the Constitution says that a commissioner of police is appointed by the governor general on the advice of the Police Service Commission.

“Anytime the occasion arises for the appointment of a commissioner or acting commissioner and then before the Police Service Commission advises the governor general as to the appointment, the Police Service Commission has to consult me.

“And if I signify my objection to the person whom they want to appoint as commissioner or acting commissioner, they can’t advise the governor general,” the prime minister further said.

He continued:

“Well, I can say that the chairman of the Police Service Commission has consulted me but I wouldn’t tell you the conclusion of the consultation because the process is not yet complete.

“Because they have to then do what they have to do and then go to the governor general. Of course, … the governor general has to do what the Police Service Commission says, having consulted the prime minister.”

John is the fifth commissioner of police to serve under Gonsalves’ administration and the first to retire early.

He is a lawyer and former prosecutor, who was the first assistant Director of Public Prosecution.

John has served in the constabulary for a total of 35 years and this will mark his second retirement for the police force.

In 2010, John, then as station sergeant of police, retired after completing his Bar exams and was appointed a Crown Counsel 1 before being promoted to Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions in 2012.

He returned to the constabulary as deputy commissioner of police in 2016 before becoming acting commissioner in 2017 and commissioner one year later. 

In August, opposition lawmaker and spokesperson on national security matters, St. Clair Leacock suggested that John was being pressured to stay in the job.

The Central Kingstown MP was responding to Gonsalves’ comments that he could not confirm or deny whether John had asked for early retirement.

He said that the prime minister’s comments were “not becoming”.

“Let’s Colin John be who he can be — wants to be. Let him self-actualise. He wants to retire, that’s his business. He wants to resign, that is his business. He has a right to. He is a professional man,” said Leacock, a former commandant of the Cadet Force and the Auxiliary Police Force.

“But don’t intimidate him with this big stick over his head. Because all it is trying [to say] you better comply, you better fall in line or else I’ll crush you. That’s what it is saying. I’ll crush you. Who you think you are?” Leacock said.

3 replies on “CoP Colin John granted early retirement”

  1. All the best Mr Colin John , proud of what you have done, representing Saint Martin’s secondary school, peace and blessings to you and your family, in whatever your next, career might be, thanks for representing your country for some 35 years in the police department, God blessings once again

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