Mark Collins and John Rankin
Governor John Rankin, right, said he ordered an “independent review” after a petition circulated recently criticising Police Commissioner Mark Collins. (Photos: PROVIDED)

Governor John Rankin has ordered an “independent review” of complaints against Police Commissioner Mark Collins following a petition about him signed by multiple police officers, Mr. Rankin said during a Jan. 5 press conference.

Three days later, Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley suggested that Mr. Collins should take “administrative leave” while he is under investigation.

The review will be carried out by a senior police officer from another overseas territory in the region in line with international best practice, the governor explained on Friday in response to questions from the media.

“Once that review has been completed and any findings or recommendations have been made, then I will make them available to the public,” he said. “But I need to await the outcome of that.”

He did not provide other details or name the investigating officer or the overseas territory where they are based.

The petition

In response to further questions, he said he has not seen anything that suggests that “the majority” of Virgin Islands police officers lack confidence in the commissioner.

“I’ve seen the petition, which has been signed by a number of officers,” he said. “Some of the complaints in that petition are of a different nature from others, but they will be looked into. And I do not believe that there are grounds for not having confidence in the commissioner of police. But I await the outcome of the review, and I shall receive it without fear or favour.”

The premier was asked during a Monday press conference if he was aware of the review before the governor announced it on Friday.

“No. I was not aware of that until earlier in the day,” Dr. Wheatley responded. “Before the press conference, the governor — we had a conversation on the phone, and he told me that.”

Dr. Wheatley added that he intended to address the matter in a National Security Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

“Those areas fall under the governor, but obviously I would lobby for what is fair and what is right,” he said, adding, “If it is fair and it is right under the existing protocols for when someone is being investigated for them to go on administrative leave, I certainly would advocate for that.

“I am going to ask a lot of questions at National Security Council. And then I can come to a determination at that point.”

Mr. Collins and the Police Information Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.