ONDCP staff protest reinstatement of the senior officer who was found to have threatened violence via voice notes last year

On Thursday, June 2, ONDCP Director Colonel Edward Croft announced that an officer who was under investigation would be suspended – but would not lose his job.

Controversy is brewing at the Office of the National Drug & Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) with the reinstatement of the Assistant Director of Operations.

On Thursday, June 2, ONDCP Director Colonel Edward Croft announced that an officer who was under investigation would be suspended – but would not lose his job.

That suspension followed the circulation of an audio recording in which the officer in question is heard threatening other persons with violence and using the foulest language. The voice note was released in May 2021.

In a press statement that apologized for the man’s behaviour, Croft said the senior officer’s “suspension follows a written report by an independent investigative panel, consisting of three reputable officials from the judiciary and other government departments.”

Adjudication proceedings had been concluded by an independent adjudicator in May 2022, and Croft, himself, had determined that suspension and severe reprimand would be the most appropriate penalties in the circumstances.

Further, the suspended officer would be required to undergo continued regular counseling sessions to help restore “the trust and respect of his office, members of the ONDCP and members of the public at large.”

However, on the advice of their bargaining agent, the Antigua and Barbuda Trades & Labour Union, staff members have responded, declaring that the statement issued by Croft does not represent their beliefs and opinions.

The employees say they do not support or condone the ONDCP leadership’s decision to fully reinstate the Assistant Director of Operations, whose name was never disclosed.

They claim that the disciplinary process was flawed, and the measures recommended were not only inconclusive, but do not take into account the grave and heinous nature of the actions taken by the Assistant Director.

The employees say the penalties are a slap on the wrist for what they believe should have been dealt with as a serious and criminal offence.

“… We are called to and held accountable at a higher standard than our fellow law-enforcement agencies,” the employees note; “and if we are to maintain this standard, then a firm stance must be taken … when a Manager/High Ranking Official commits an act that seeks to destroy the credibility and good name that we, the employees of the ONDCP, have and continue to strive so hard to create and maintain,” their press release says.

Accordingly, the staff say they do not wish to be part of an organization whose leadership pacifies the acts of its high-ranking officials while terrorizing the minor misgivings of its junior employees. 

They liken management’s mentality to that of a “massa/slave” relationship, adding that they will not be forced – as they were instructed in a general staff meeting – to “give the necessary respect to the man in his capacity as Manager/Assistant Director.”

The staff say the senior officer has brought great shame, reproach, and disappointment to the name and employees of the ONDCP and its principles. Further, “the precedent set here reflects poorly, not only on the leadership of the ONDCP, but on all investigating parties and, sadly, the Ministers of Government…,” the workers say.

Therefore, they are calling on the Administration to rectify this infraction and to bring some calm to the untrusting and uncomfortable environment that currently exists within the ONDCP.