In a very short statement, the Guyana Police Force this afternoon announced that Acting Police Commissioner Nigel Hoppie has proceeded on pre-retirement leave and Assistant Commissioner of Police Clifton Hicken who has been performing the functions of Deputy Commissioner will now be performing the functions of Police Commissioner.
The move to appoint Hicken to perform the functions of Police Commissioner has resulted in substantive Deputy Commissioner Paul Williams being overlooked although with Hoppie heading off on pre-retirement leave, he is the most senior Officer in the Police Force.
In February 2021, Deputy Commissioner Williams was posted to the Civil Defence Commission as a Security Advisor.
The Guyana Police Force would not comment on the details surrounding the appointment, and President Irfaan Ali who three weeks ago assured that the Constitution will be followed in the appointment of the Police Commissioner has also gone silent on the issue.
The Constitution of Guyana states that the President appoints a Commissioner of Police following consultations with the Opposition Leader and the Police Service Commission.
There is no Police Service Commission in place and a new Leader of the Opposition is still to be appointed.
There has been no appointment of a substantive Police Commissioner, but questions are being raised about the appointment of Mr. Hicken to act in the position.
Former Chairman of the Police Service Commission Paul Slowe has explained that the same requirements apply to the appointment of an Acting Police Commissioner.
He has also noted that with a substantive Deputy Commissioner in place, it would be strange and a possible affront to public service rules, for a lower rank to be appointed to the Head of the Force in front of the person who is holding the substantive Deputy position.
Under the former APNU+AFC Government, Assistant Commissioner Hicken was among several Assistant Commissioners interviewed for the Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police positions.
At the end of the interviews and following consultations with the then Opposition Leader, a Police Commissioner and four Deputies were appointed. Hicken was not among the Deputies appointed. However, following the retirement of two of the Deputies last year, he started to perform the functions of Deputy Commissioner of Police for Operations.