Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Ex-cop cries for justice - Dismissed policeman continues 24-year fight to clear his name

Published:Sunday | July 24, 2016 | 7:00 AMBarbara Gayle

A former corporal of police who reportedly risked his life to save two women during an attack by four gunmen in December 1991, is expressing disappointment that instead of being commended, he was dismissed from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

Raymond Powell said he was dismissed on May 4, 1992 for being absent from work for more than 48 hours without leave or permission.

"When I was fired, I was still being treated for gunshot injuries to my right hand and right eye and I had a valid sick leave certificate from the Kingston Public Hospital stating I was unfit to work," the 58-year-old Powell told The Sunday Gleaner last week.

According to Powell, when he sent a sick leave certificate with his mother in May 1992, to the police division where he was stationed, it was rejected by an officer who made some unpleasant remarks.

Powell has made numerous appeals since his dismissal for help to fight what he describes as the injustice meted out to him but has not been successful. But he is not giving up.

"My next move is to send a petition to the governor general seeking his help in solving the problem," said Powell said.

"One of the things I want to remove is the dark cloud which tends to hamper me because there are people who, at this present time, discredit my character because they cannot believe that I was dismissed through no fault of my own.

"What I want more than anything else is for my case to be revisited and to get an apology from the JCF and compensation for the wrong done to me," added Powell.

 

LETTER TO POLICE COMMISSIONER

 

In 1993, Powell wrote to then police commissioner Colonel Trevor MacMillan asking for an interview with regards to his dismissal.

At that time, Powell claimed that his dismissal was borne out of "malice, inconsideration and no form of humanitarian feeling for a person who is always willing to go the extra mile".

McMillan's response to Powell's plea was a letter stating that the governor general, on the advice of the Privy Council, had ordered that the penalty of dismissal must be affirmed.

"In all the 12 years I was in the Force, I have never been absent from work or reprimanded by any senior officer, so how could I be fired when it was well-known that I was shot and injured after risking my life to save others?" argued Powell as he displayed the sick leave certificates and the letters he had written over the years seeking help to be reinstated.

Powell pointed out that he received commendation in 1991 for dedication and hard work as he charged that despite all that, he was fired unjustly.

"It is now 24 years since I have been fired and daily I wonder how I could be fired for endangering my life to save others."

Powell said he went on vacation leave only once while he was in the Force because he was always told that due to exigencies of duty he could not be granted leave.

He told our news team that he had more than 105 days vacation leave when he was dismissed and he says, so far, he has not even been paid for them.

The Force Order which was published on January 27, 1994 stated that Powell was dismissed under Regulation 27 (1) which states that "every officer, sub-officer or constable who absents himself from duty without leave for more than 48 hours, without satisfactory explanation, shall be held automatically to have vacated his position and shall be liable to summary dismissal".

Powell hired a lawyer to take the matter to court and an application was filed in the Supreme Court seeking leave to apply to the Judicial Review Court to quash the decision to fire him.

When the application came for hearing in chambers at the Supreme Court 1992, the lawyer did not turn up and the matter was adjourned without another date being set.

"I worked very hard and was a disciplined and honest policeman and was also the sports coordinator for Area 5." Powell disclosed. "I am positive that if I were not dismissed, I would have retired above the rank of an inspector," he said.