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Government MP claims ex-police commissioner DeSilva will be offered Ombudsman role

Outspoken: Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly (File photograph)

A controversial former police commissioner is in line to become the next Ombudsman, a senior government MP has claimed.

Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker of the House, claimed that he had information that Michael DeSilva, who quit as commissioner in 2018, had been pencilled in for the post.

Mr Burgess emphasised he was not pleased with the proposed new appointment.

He also criticised Rena Lalgie, the Governor, for her apparent support for the appointment of Mr DeSilva.

Mr Burgess told MPs: “ I’m a bit taken aback because what I’ve been told is that the chief occupant of Langton Hill wants to appoint the former police commissioner as the Ombudsman.

“And I find it a bit concerning to me because, if you look at the history of Government House, I would venture to say that 70 per cent of the appointees that come under their charge are people who are white.

“And so I’m a little concerned about that because I do know — I’ve been told by sources outside of government — that between 12 and 14 applied for this job. And so I get concerned there.”

Mr Burgess was speaking during the motion to adjourn in the House of Assembly on Friday.

Mr Burgess did not mention by name Mr DeSilva, who was in charge of the police service when the pepper-spraying incident on December 2, 2016 happened.

Officers used the irritant spray after crowds gathered outside Sessions House for a demonstration against the public-private partnership deal to build the new airport and blocked the entry of MPs.

Mr Burgess highlighted that prison inmates may not have confidence in raising complaints with a former senior police officer.

He said: “Why would the chief occupant of Langton Hill — even though they weren’t there at the time — want to appoint someone to be the Ombudsman, particularly when we have our inmates who are incarcerated?

“At least 99 per cent of our inmates are people of colour. They target black folks And no one can tell me that only black folks do wrong.

“Sometimes they write to the Ombudsman about concerns they may have. You think they’ll be confident in writing to an ex-police commissioner?”

Mr Burgess highlighted that Ms Lalgie had also failed to confirm Acting Commissioner of Police Darrin Simons in the service’s top job.

Mr Burgess said: “I’m a little concerned about that because I’ve been told by sources outside of government that 12 and 14 applied for this job and I get concerned about that, particularly when the chief occupant is holding up the appointment of the police commissioner.

“In my opinion he’s doing a great job — well qualified for the job. Why, it seems that when people of colour are aligned for a job, they seemingly have to go through an apprenticeship scheme to be finally appointed. This is a concern to me.”

Mr DeSilva moved to a private sector job in hotel security after he left the police service.

Mr Simons declined to comment on any future appointment to the head of the force last week.

He said: “The process is the Governor’s. The process is ongoing. We would all be hopeful that we would be able to announce the appointment of a new commissioner in the near future.”

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Published February 21, 2022 at 7:46 am (Updated February 21, 2022 at 2:15 pm)

Government MP claims ex-police commissioner DeSilva will be offered Ombudsman role

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