Nizam charges ethnic imbalance

(Trinidad Guardian) Police Service Commission chairman Nizam Mohammed says there are too many Africans in the hierarchy of T&T Police Service  and he intends to address the issue with assistance from the Parliament. Mohammed said there was an imbalance with the ethnic composition of officers ranking from superintendents to Assistant Commissioners of Police.

He was speaking at a Joint Select Committee (JSC) meeting to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the commission at the Parliament on Friday. The meeting was chaired by Independent senator Subhas Ramkhelawan. As Mohammed waded into talks about ethnicity, Health Minister and JSC member Therese Baptiste-Cornelis said she “just never liked those kinds of statements being made.” As Mohammed continued,  three of his fellow commissioners—Martin George, Jacqueline Cheesman and Kenneth Parker—distanced themselves from his statements, endorsing what Cornelis-Baptiste said.

Mohammed said according to information provided by the Commissioner of Police to the Director of Personnel Administration, Service Commission Depart-ment, Gloria Edwards-Joseph on the ethnic composition of leadership in the TTPS, out of 59 positions only ten were held by East Indians. He did not specify whether the figures were for the current period. Mohammed said officers in the lower ranks had to interact with those in senior positions and there were “strains in relations.” He said the issue should not be approached in an inflammatory, passionate or emotional manner.

His tone, however, escalated as he spoke. “Fifty per cent of this country are people of East Indian origin and you are asking them to support the Police Service…They have to provide the Police Service with information,” Mohammed said.

“They have to feel protected by the Police Service and when they see the hierarchy of the Police Service is as imbalanced as is reflected in these figures and the chairman of the commission intends to tackle these things you understand why… you understand why the guns are being aimed at me, but I have a job to do and this is what I am going to do.

“I intend to address this with the help of the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said. “We need the protection.” He said he had been working along with police officers for more than 35 years and officers often came to him to discuss issues affecting them. He listed a situation involving president of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association regarding promotion and ethnicity issues. Mohammed said because of the ethnic composition of the Promotions Advisory Board, the president felt threatened and was seeking a review.

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