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May 2, 2019

Are Commissioner’s Orders Unlawful?

Dezerie Phillips Magdaleno

In the letter, Mendez tells Williams that it is widely known that dreadlocks are “deeply symbolic in our region and are often worn as expressions of black identity and solidarity against colonialism and oppression.” In fact, Mendez asserts that for some, the hairstyle is worn in adherence to the Rastafarian faith. According to Mendez, demanding the women police officers to cut their dreadlocks breaches their constitutional rights to freedom of conscience, freedom of expression and non-discrimination. On the other hand, ACP Magdaleno says this does not have anything to do with any human rights issue, but rather with following rules that have been in existence for many years, even before the women joined the force.


ACP Dezerie Phillips Magdaleno, Commander, Eastern Division

“I don’t know how you come by to this being a human rights issue. We will not try this matter here in the media by any means. This matter is before a disciplinary tribunal and it well may go to the courts. So we will not get into all those details but I do not see it as a human rights matter. The Standing Order said there must be no elaborate head decoration or extension.”



“How do you define elaborate because it might be argued that your hairstyle is in fact an elaborate one?”


ACP Dezerie Phillips Magdaleno

“You could go to the lexicon and the lexicon will tell you the definition of elaborate. I don’t want to get into the definition because as I said this matter is before a disciplinary tribunal. But you go to the lexicon and check with elaborate means and you get back to me.”


Leslie Mendez

Leslie Mendez, Attorney

“What to me is happening in our view is that those biases and prejudices are now being trying to institutionalize. So by interpreting the code or by enacting or implementing a dress code that you can’t wear locks has significant implications with respect to, when you interpret that that would in effect disproportionately affect the black community. This is why we say that such a rule because it would disproportionately affect, or touch, would restrict them we say that there are serious constitutional rights implications and violations.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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