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Police probationer argues he was unfairly dismissed

Bermuda Police Service (File photograph)

The Commissioner of Police acted unfairly when he fired an officer who was just weeks away from completing his probation, it has been claimed.

A judge heard yesterday that Marcus Uddin had joined the Bermuda Police Service as a trainee officer in September, 2018.

Mr Uddin was to serve a three year probation period, during which he could be dismissed at any time without reason.

Victoria Greening, representing Mr Uddin, explained that at the end of May, 2021, Mr Uddin was placed on a management action plan following complaints about his work.

Complaints included failing to update crime reports on the police database, failing to wear a bulletproof vest at a firearm incident, and failing to produce his police notebook when ordered to.

Mr Uddin was advised that, under the three-month plan, his conduct would be monitored and that he would have monthly meetings with his supervising officer to assess his performance and see where improvements could be made.

But just two weeks into the programme, Mr Uddin received a letter from Darrin Simons, the Commissioner of Police, saying that he had just 72 hours to give reasons why he should not be dismissed.

After getting an extension to reply to that demand, Mr Uddin replied that he had understood that a decision on his future with the force would not be made until he had completed the management action plan at the end of August, 2021.

But at the end of July, Commissioner Simons wrote to Mr Uddin claiming that he had failed to provide good reason why he should remain in the service.

The letter concluded: “At the end of the probation period you are unlikely to become an effective and efficient member of the Bermuda Police Service and so we are discharging you from the service.”

Ms Greening told the court that there had been no further complaints about Mr Uddin’s conduct after he started the management action plan and that Mr Uddin had every reason to believe that he should have been allowed to complete the programme.

Ms Greening also read out a number of commendations from senior officers praising Mr Uddin for his commitment to duty.

And she noted that Mr Uddin had been selected to train for the police armed response unit – a unit that was reserved for the “creme-de la creme“ of officers.

In an affidavit, Mr Uddin claimed that at a first meeting with his supervisor under the programme at the end of June, he was told that his performance was “on track”.

Arguing that the decision to dismiss Mr Uddin was unfair, unreasonable, and a breach of natural justice, Ms Greening said: “If the Commissioner had decided that he was going to dismiss my client he may have been able to do that following the completion of the management action plan without reason – I accept that that was in the realms of his power.

“But he didn’t wait and so now my client will never know the outcome of the management plan that he was engaging with successfully.

“He understood that he would be given time to improve, but he was never given that time because the Commissioner interfered.

“It may be that, at the end of the action plan there may have been a different outcome but we will never know because of the unlawful and unfair actions of the Commissioner.”

But Brian Moodie, for the Attorney General’s Chambers, argued that the Commissioner had every right to dismiss Mr Uddin – whatever the reason – because he was still on probation.

He said the Commissioner also had the authority to make a decision before the management action plan process had been completed.

He pointed out that Mr Uddin had a history of failing to obey orders and that, after completing his basic training, one training officer advised that he not be taken on as an officer.

Mr Moodie said that performance reviews had repeatedly shown that, while Mr Uddin had shown “moments of competence”, he had a habit of “failing to follow orders and instructions unless it is something the applicant wants or likes to do” and had “a lacklustre attitude to doing certain duties”.

Mr Moodie said that the BPS had spent almost three years working with Mr Uddin in an effort to improve his attitude.

Mr Moodie said Commissioner Simons eventually decided to dismiss Mr Uddin following a meeting of senior officers on July 20.

He said: “They clearly couldn’t see how he was going to to make an effective police officer, so why wait, why not do it now?”

Narinder Hargun, the Chief Justice, reserved judgment and will give his ruling at a later date.

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