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January 15, 2021

Commissioner of Police defends dressing down cop who stopped him for alleged COVID-19 violation

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Posted: Friday, January 15, 2021. 12:38 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Usually the Commissioner of Police, Chester Williams, is easygoing, quick with a quip. Rare instances of ice and ire are reserved for more serious situations.

But the officer who stopped him a few days ago and tried to enforce the COVID-19 quarantine regulations came in for an icy private tongue lashing, recorded and now leaked.

Williams in the recording berates the officer in a stern tone, telling him to get his act together and citing the Quarantine Regulations and Police Act, Section 20(2), to be out on duty. Indeed, police officers are never truly off duty as mandated by the Police Act.

Thus, Williams informs the officer, he needs neither the uniform nor the authority to drive around the City at night checking in with his personnel: “I am not a Commissioner that administrates from a cave; and I’m not going to seek permission from you to do my job.”

Williams goes on to call the officer’s comments during the stop “disrespectful,” while conceding that perhaps the officer may not have recognized his vehicle – which he says he’s had for about two months.

Has the Commissioner talked his way out of an arrest and fine? Perhaps, but he took to social media today seeking to do damage control.

First he corrected another media house’s claim that a senior officer was disciplined, stating that he was present as the commanding officer of the unfortunate cop involved. That officer appears to have compounded his predicament by recording without the Commissioner’s permission and leaking it, a breach of discipline that will be addressed.

For Williams, it is a matter of respect and the wider public trust: “… if we have a Department with members who have no respect for their superior officers, then how will you expect them to respect you? One of the reasons why the public has little trust in us is because of actions like these, where everything said to the police, even what is said in confidence, is leaked. If we promote undisciplined behavior then we can only expect havoc within our society. We must therefore be careful of the things we tolerate as it can surely come back and haunt us.”

He reiterates that as top cop, his job is not from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and that’s why he takes calls and messages at all hours; to do otherwise, he says, would make him out of touch and unfit for the office.

He also clarifies that as general practice, essential workers, such as Police, doctors, nurses, fire fighters, Customs, Immigration, security guards and persons employed in the tourism industry are allowed to pass once they can prove they are out in the execution of their duties.

And he concludes, “Finally, I am the kind of supervisor that looks after the welfare of my officers; I stop and speak with them, I do not pass them on the road, I ensure that they get what they need to be more comfortable at work and I mingle with them because I do not think that I’m better than they are. But I will also discipline them when the need arise and move on without holding any grudge.”


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