T&T Police Service Commission head under fire over racial statement

(Trinidad Express) Assistant Commissioner of Police Fitzroy Fredericks last night called for the immediate removal of chairman of the Police Service Commission Nizam Mohammed over racial statements Mohammed made on Friday.

Frederick, who said he was annoyed and hurt by Mohammed’s statements, said Mohammed was “… out of place” when he said there were too many police officers of African descent on the executive of the Police Service, as compared to East Indians.

Frederick, speaking on behalf of the executive of the Police Service, said he has placed Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs on notice that he intends to hold a news conference today at 10 a.m. at the Police Administration Building to “deal with the atrocious statements Mr Nizam Mohammed has made”.

“We are disturbed and hurt and we are not working with that… We will not be working until Mohammed is removed… The Commissioner doesn’t know the history of the Police Service here and we are going to deal with all of these issues tomorrow (today).

“We will also be calling for Mohammed to be removed as head of the PSC because he cannot be allowed to continue behaving in such manner.”

He said, “This is the second time someone in high public office has targeted African people within the executive of the Police Service for absolutely no reason and I say we have had enough and we are not taking these matters lightly.

“The Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan, did it last year and we are not going to work until these issues are dealt with because it seemed they are trying to fan the flames of race and divide the Police Service, and we will not stand idly by and allow it to happen. I want my fellow executive officers to rally around me and let’s deal with this issue head-on,” Fredericks said.

On Friday, Mohammed, speaking before a Joint Select Committee (JSC) of Parliament, said records from the Police Service show there were more persons of African descent in leadership positions, as opposed to their East Indian colleagues.

He said the PSC, with the help of the Parliament, intended to change such since there must be an ethnic balance within the service to ensure equality of treatment.

“Happily, when you look at the figures, you see at the superintendent level, you have 21 of African origin and ten of East Indian origin and since within recent times, we have been emphasising the question of meritocracy as opposed to seniority, and Monday coming, superintendents should be writing their exams.

“The better ones may move to senior superintendents and you may have a better mixture,” Mohammed told the JSC.

Meanwhile, several First Division officers, who are expected to write assessment examinations from tomorrow, have expressed serious concerns about possible attempts to influence and manipulate the process in light of Mohammed’s statements.

Yesterday, more than a dozen of these senior officers contacted the Sunday Express, saying they had “grave concerns” over Mohammed’s statements and they felt threatened by them.

The officers, of African descent, said the statements give the impression that Mohammed may attempt to influence the process in ensuring that persons of East Indian origin score high points in the exams and are promoted in front of their African colleagues, based not on meritocracy, but on ethnicity.

“Promotions are not based on race, colour, creed or seniority, but on whether you’re up to the task and on merit, and that’s the end of the discussion.

“I don’t know where he came up with that idea, but it is unbecoming of the head of the PSC to make such statements, especially when it appeared that it would have been previously discussed by other members of his team, who do not agree with him,” a Snr Supt, who asked not to be identified, told the Sunday Express.

In a telephone interview, Commissioner Gibbs said of this week’s exams:

“I just want to assure the members that it’s a fair and equitable process. There hasn’t been any biasness built into the exam process. It has been developed by an outside organisation that has looked at it very objectively. It really has nothing to do with ethnicity. It really just really has to do with competency and merit.”

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