Police Welfare Chief Loses Job Over Vaccine Mandate

(CMC) – Head of the Police Welfare Association in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Station Sergeant Brenton Smith has lost his job because of his refusal to comply with the Government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Police officers are among a wide cross-section of public sector workers deemed frontline employees who have been mandated to get vaccinated to continue in their jobs.

Smith, who has been a police officer for 27 years, did not comply and was informed that he was deemed to have resigned from his job as a police officer.

He, however, told CMC that he does not consider himself as having resigned.

“I have been fired,” Smith said in a telephone interview, pointing out that the letter informing him of the decision was hand-delivered by a sergeant of police.

“I have to inform you that the Police Service Commission has noted that you, without reasonable excuse, failed to comply with Rule 5 of the Public Health (Public Bodies Special Measures) Rules 2021,” stated the December 8 correspondence signed by the Chief Personnel Officer Arlene Regisford-Sam and copied to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security, the Commissioner of Police, the Director-General — Finance, the Accountant General, the Director of Audit, and the Comptroller, Inland Revenue Department.

The letter stated that as a result of Smith’s failure to comply with the rule, he had been absent from duty without leave since November 22.

“Accordingly, on behalf of the Police Service Commission, I have to inform you that you are deemed to have resigned your office with effect from December 7th, 2021, and have ceased to be an officer, in accordance with Section 73A of the Police Act, Chapter 391 of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,” the notice continued. “On behalf of the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, I would like to thank you for the service you have rendered during your period of employment, and also to wish you success in the future.”

Smith told CMC he was not surprised to get the letter, as lower-ranked officers received similar letters from Commissioner of Police Colin John on Tuesday.

He revealed that about 13 people have received “dismissal” letters from the police chief as a result of the mandate and some officers are still awaiting responses to their applications for medical or religious exemptions.

Smith disclosed that he has seven days in which to appeal and he intends to do so.

“I think all of the persons who received letters, I would advise them as well to appeal it,” Smith said noting that the letter did not state anything about his benefits.

“I think the other letters from the commissioner’s level spoke of persons receiving their benefits. This one did not say anything about it. But I will say this again if the government thinks that they want my benefits more than I do, let them have it. I’ll fight, you know; I’ll fight because I still have a family, but at this time, I am not worried about benefits,” he shared.

“I am worried about the road that we are heading down as a country, as a police force. So, if my benefits are going to open the eyes of other persons, that’s what I want. Because it is never about Brenton Smith. It is never about me being individualistic, about how Vincentians are becoming these days. This is a broader issue than me and my benefits.”

The police officer told CMC that he is still unvaccinated and has no plans to get the jab in the future.