DeSilva: successor row was confused’
Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva has warned that picking a Bermudian successor for the top job was not as simple as it appeared.
Mr DeSilva, who retires tomorrow, told The Royal Gazette that the notion of succession planning had been “confused” in the clamour over the new appointment.
The departing commissioner also pointed out that the “particularly strong candidate”, Deputy Commissioner Paul Wright, had not gone for the job.
“In the civil service, it doesn’t mean the same as it does in the private sector,” Mr DeSilva told The Royal Gazette.
The commissioner was speaking after questions were raised about the appointment of Chief Superintendent Stephen Corbishley, a British officer, over local candidates for the top police job.
Three Bermudian applicants failed to make the cut in the selection process.
In Parliament, Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, castigated the Bermuda Police Service’s management for “failings” in developing a Bermudian successor.
The commissioner, who has held the post since 2009, emphasised that it was not his intent to “go out in a blaze of glory and be seen contradicting the minister”.
“You can’t identify specific people in advance because the principle is that everyone must have equal access to opportunity,” he said.
“We don’t pick people individually and put them on a fast track.
“We provide opportunities for all staff as part of their professional development. Ultimately we are trying to create as wide a pool as possible for succession.
“We always want to move people up the ladder. We can’t pick a group or person over another. That does not apply in the civil service.”
Mr Corbishley’s appointment was announced on May 30 by John Rankin, the Governor.
The next commissioner is not yet on the island, and Mr DeSilva said he was “still waiting to hear” when Mr Corbishley would take the helm.
Mr DeSilva added: “The next in rank to me is the Deputy Commissioner, but he chose not to apply.
“That left the two assistant commissioners and one superintendent. There is context here that’s important and that has been lost.”
Assistant commissioners fall two ranks below the top post, while the superintendent is three steps down.
The commissioner said: “While it’s not unheard of to jump ranks, it is not the norm. The context, while disappointing, is that we didn’t have anyone in rank to take the job, and we should not be shocked if we don’t have people ready two or three ranks below the commissioner’s rank.”
Mr DeSilva outlined wide-ranging professional and career development available to all officers.
He added: “The reason we do it that way is because, when it comes time to have the selection process, we have to be fair, and to be seen to be fair, and to give all candidates equal access to promotion. That’s an issue of good governance.”
After 8½ years in the hot seat, in which the force contended with a surge in gang-related violence shortly after Mr DeSilva took the job, the commissioner said he had been “asked repeatedly why I’m leaving”.
“It’s as if there’s a single answer,” he said. “There isn’t.
“The reality is that once I reached eight years, I knew I had to think about retirement. It would be highly unusual to go more than ten years. I made my decision a year ago last May. I slowly started to feed that out, and I told the Governor at Christmas.”
Mr DeSilva added: “I feel I’ve done my part and made a meaningful contribution. It was not without its bumps, but I would like to think I’ve made a difference to the organisation through my leadership, and a difference to policing in Bermuda.
“A couple of scorecard numbers have been very positive, particularly public perception and our results with serious crime.
“We have learnt a lot as an organisation and I leave behind an incredibly solid team of very experienced people who will continue at the same level of work without me.”
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