An opinion by the Office of Attorney General on the legality of the Ministry of Justice’s “Cross Training and Rotation Policy” for law enforcement officers says the policy is “within the scope of authority granted to the ROP in dealing with its employees.”
Furthermore, it says the Bureau of Public Safety employees cannot challenge this policy in court and that “ROP’s legal exposure is likely low.”
Vice President and Minister of Justice Uduch Sengebau-Senior had issued a directive ordering chiefs of the divisions under the Bureau of Public Safety to rotate between different divisions, serving six months as chief of an assigned bureau. The policy was for the purpose of “cross-training and developing institutional capacity and flexibility.”
“I have been vindicated,” expressed Vice President Uduch Sengebau-Senior in response to the legal opinion. Vice President and Minister of Justice Uduch Sengebau-Senior had pushback from most of the directors on the policy.
The Office of the Attorney issued its legal opinion on the MOJ’s Administrative Directive No. 2023-001 after being requested to do so on March 27, 2023.
During the Ministry of Justice’s oversight hearing with the Senate, the Vice President Senior and the chiefs who testified were questioned on the policy. Does the policy violate the Public Service System Act (PSSA) and Public Service System Rules and Regulations (PSSRR)?
Questions presented to the Attorney General were whether the duty rotation qualified as a “transfer” and whether the Minister of Justice had the authority to transfer. In addition, was there a vacancy that allowed for the transfer of BPS employees, and if the policy was unlawful, do the employees have ground to sue the Ministry of Justice?
The Office of the Attorney General said rotation might qualify as a transfer, but given the specific description as training-related, it may not be. Transfers are authorized under the law. Where the law allows for transfers to fill a vacancy, OAG cites that a rotation process creates vacancies. Lastly, OAG clearly states that “an employee cannot challenge a transfer within the Public Service System except as a means to …attack a suspension, demotion or dismissal.”