PRESIDENT of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association (PSWA), acting ASP Gideon Dickson, has taken the Police Service Commission (PolSC) to court after he was disqualified for appointment or promotion to the office of deputy commissioner of police (DCP).
On Tuesday, Dickson got permission from Justice Nadia Kangaloo to pursue his judicial review claim against the PSC.
His lawsuit comes after he was told by the PSC in June that he did not have the requisite qualifications in the form of “any other relevant Master’s degree.”
Dickson had applied for the vacancy in the post of deputy commissioner in March. He was one of 37 applicants.
He has a Master’s in Business Administration, a BSc in Criminal Justice (with a major in police science), and an associate degree in Criminal Justice. He also has CAPE and CSEC level certificates and almost 21 years of unblemished service, his claim contends.
In March 2022, the PSC developed a policy for the offices of commissioner and deputy commissioner, which set out the methodology for assessing which Master’s degree would be considered a relevant degree.
In addition to other requirements, applicants for the two top posts in the police service must hold a Master's Degree from a university recognised by the Ministry of National Security in law, criminal justice, criminology, police service management or “any other relevant degree.”
Dickson’s lawsuit maintains that the policy defines what a “relevant degree” was, and his MBA was relevant to policing since it contained courses in strategic and executive management leadership.
It also said the PSC’s policy included a listing of approved degrees, one of which was the MBA from the University of Bedfordshire, where Dickson attained his.
“The claimant’s degree is, therefore, one of the Master’s degree which the PolSC had already determined as satisfying the relevancy criteria.”
Dickson’s claim also said during 2015-2022, the established policy and practice saw officers with a variety of degrees appointed to act or promoted to the office of DCP. He said that based on this, he pursued his MBA with the “confident expectation” that it would be accepted by the PSC. He also said before March 2022, there was no established policy to determine the relevancy of a Master’s degree.
He said after he applied, he was asked to submit his transcript and thesis, which he did.
“To my complete shock and utter disappointment, the PolSC subsequently indicated that I did not possess the qualifications for this office.
“Assuming but not admitting that the PolSC was entitled to assess my degree in light of the fact that it was clearly and unequivocally represented that this was a Master’s degree which had been approved and accepted as satisfying the relevancy qualifications criterion, this assessment is perverse, absurd and completely irrational.”
He also said his thesis focused on leadership and change management in police organisations, which addressed the core functions of the police service.
Dickson contends it “was illegal, unfair, arbitrary and irrational for the PolSC to resile from that policy without any forewarning or consultation with myself and other similarly circumstanced aggrieved officers.
“This was not a course that was open to the PolSC without any form of prior notification and consultation with affected and aggrieved officers.
“To do otherwise would be detrimental to good public administration and would cause immense and irreparable hardship, harm, and prejudice.”
He said before he decided to take legal action after receiving certain information from the commissioner in a freedom of information request, he consulted with the executive of the PSWA. He was also concerned that litigation against the State would adversely affect his prospects for promotion.
“This situation has brought me much distress and inconvenience. I have watched on as several members of my batch (and even some junior to me) with whom I entered the service have been accepted for assessment to the rank of DCP.
“I became the butt of jokes among my colleagues…These things hurt because it was true, and it was through no fault of my own, yet my mental and physical health had to bear the brunt of this ridicule.”
The promotion assessment process for the post of DCP is ongoing.
Dickson is represented by Anand Ramlogan, SC, Jayanti Lutchmedial, Robert Abdool-Mitchell, Natasha Bisram and Jared Jagroo.