EIGHT police officers have filed contempt of court proceedings against the Commissioner of Police for failing to comply with a judge’s order for him to retroactively promote them to sergeant.
The contempt of court proceedings was filed in the Port of Spain High Court, although the commissioner, earlier this week, filed separate proceedings seeking to have the judge’s order set aside.
The commissioner was given a final opportunity to promote the eight by 8 am yesterday morning.
He failed to do so, and the contempt action was filed.
On June 14, the commissioner withdrew an appeal of the court’s order when it came up for hearing before appellate court judge Justice Alice Yorke-Soo Hon.
The application was intended to stay the orders of Justice Joan Charles in March that the eight should be promoted retroactively, with back pay and fringe benefits.
After the matter was stood down to allow attorneys for the policemen and the commissioner to hold discussions, both sides returned and the lawmen’s attorneys Dinesh Rambally and Stefan Ramkissoon said their clients wished to have it resolved amicably without further court proceedings, while the commissioner’s lawyers asked for permission to withdraw the application.
The commissioner was also ordered to pay the policemen’s costs, certified at $7,400, before July 31.
As a result of the withdrawal of the application to stay Charles’ orders, the way was clear for the policemen, if they so chose, to file enforcement proceedings, including contempt, if the commissioner did not abide by the orders. The application set out the extensive efforts made to ensure the commissioner’s compliance with the order. The contempt action seeks a committal order or, in the alternative, another order directing the commissioner to promote the eight by June 26.
The eight policemen – acting Sgts Audie Alexander Moona, Jerry London, Rameshwar Gopaul, Daryl Theophilus, Jimmy Marcano, Dirk John, Anslem Knott, and Jimmy Marcano – were successful in their challenge of the continued failure of the commissioner to promote them.
They have been challenging the police promotion exercise since 2016 when they said they were told they would be considered for promotion. They said they were called on to act in the position of sergeant owing to a shortage of officers of that rank.
In March last year, Charles ordered the commissioner to reserve 12 positions for the rank of sergeant until she gave her ruling in the matter, which she did a year later on March 25. In her ruling this year, Charles held that the decision of the commissioner not to promote the eight, on the basis that there were no spaces available at the rank of sergeant, was unfair, unlawful and in breach of the policemen’s rights.
She ordered the commissioner to promote the eight with retroactive effect from April 22, 2016, with any back pay and fringe benefits.
Last month, the eight policemen said they had still not been elevated despite the court’s orders.
The contempt application said the action part of a “continuing saga of unfairness and breach of public law duty” on the part of the commissioner.