A female police officer has pleaded ‘not guilty’ to drug-related charges after she was arrested and charged with the offence last Friday. Woman Police Officer Monica Williams was charged with possession of cannabis and possession of cannabis with intent to supply. According to an official police report WPO Williams was present at a Prickley Pear residence when police executed a search warrant on the premises. A male occupant of the residence, Jeneve Mills, was also arrested during the early morning police operation and charged with the same offences. Police would not say if WPO Williams was known to reside or spend a lot of time at the Prickley Pear residence but listed St. Pauls as her known address. On Monday the pair pleaded “not guilty” to the charges and was released on $5,000 bail. The Observer spoke to Police PRO Inspector Vaughan Henderson who confirmed that WPO Williams had been suspended from duty pending the outcome of a trial. He said this was usual procedure and the officer could be suspended with half pay or no pay at all. He also informed that a separate police tribunal would ensue following the criminal trial. If found guilty in either trial, the officer can be dismissed from the Force. “There is a part of the police disciplinary code which speaks to a police officer having been convicted of a criminal offence and that particular disciplinary offence usually carries the penalty of dismissal. Once a police officer has been convicted in the criminal court that in itself is a disciplinary offence. Then that police officer will be charged with that offence at a police internal tribunal headed By the Commissioner of Police or an Adjudicator,” he explained. If found not guilty at a criminal trial or if the criminal charges are dismissed in the Court, then the offending officer could still face the internal tribunal and be found guilty of breaching the Force codes with disreputable conduct, Insp. Henderson informed. A conviction in a tribunal could lead to dismissal, fines or confinement to barracks for a specified time. “If the officer is acquitted at the court for the criminal offence that does not mean that disreputable conduct did not occur. The circumstance under which the officer might have been acquitted does not necessarily mean that the evidence was not there, it just means the charges were withdrawn. So the police would have their own internal investigation and evidence as to what the circumstances of the incident were.” The PRO said it was usual and lawful for police to arrest all persons present at a premise where illegal substances were found or activities were taking place. He said everyone would then be considered to be “in possession” of any illegal item found therein. Henderson spoke to the credibility and reputation of the entire force being called into disrepute due to the incident. “You can’t escape the negative impact that a situation like this will have on the reputation and image of the Police Force but we have said repeatedly that we have our own internal disciplinary mechanisms to deal with situations like these. We are committed in every regard when ugly scenarios present themselves that we deal with them appropriately and according to our disciplinary code.” The Inspector said Commissioner of Police Austin Williams had already indicated to the rank and file that if officers find themselves in such compromising positions and are convicted then ‘they will face the ultimate penalty” of dismissal. He said the reputation of the organization must be paramount in such situations and stated that it was important for the public to know that these “were isolated situations”.
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