Speculation rife over next police chief

Sri Lanka's next Police Chief may be one of those in the line of seniority or even an outsider. The matter has become the subject of intense speculation both in political and defence circles as the current incumbent, Jayantha Wickremaratne, is due to retire on November 2. He has not sought an extension of office, an official source said yesterday.

He was speaking on grounds of anonymity as he is not authorised to talk to the media. In terms of the Police seniority list, the next in line is Mahinda Balasuriya, senior DIG.

He will retire from the Police service, at the completion of 60 years, on June 17, 2013.The others in the order of seniority are senior DIGs N.G. Illangakoon (due to retire on November 4, 2016), P.K.G. Navaratne (due to retire on July 20, 2015), S. Kailash Shankar (due to retire on April 21, 2010), Nimal Mediwake (due to retire on June 1, 2010), Jayantha Gamage (due to retire on November 22, 2011) and Keerthi Gajanayake (due to retire on September 24, 2010).

Whilst some powerful political personalities are staking claims on behalf of various senior candidates, The Sunday Times has learnt that the possibility of bringing an outsider to head the Police Department is also being considered. Though no firm decision has been made, two reasons are being cited. One is the current state of affairs in the Police Department whose image has dipped to a new low. The other is that there is already a precedent to make such an appointment.

It was the late Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who named the first and only civilian to be Sri Lanka's Inspector General of Police. In 1959, he appointed M.W.F. Abeykoon who was not even accustomed to wearing a uniform. He was the only civilian from outside to head the Police. Another civilian, a leading state service officer at that time, D.B.I.P.S. Siriwardena, served a short stint as Deputy Inspector General of Police.

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