Deputy T&T Top Cop refuses to sign performance appraisal

(Trinidad Guardian) Deputy Police Commissioner in charge of Operations Jack Ewatski has refused to sign his performance appraisal conducted by Police Service Commission, citing that the process was “seriously flawed.” This was revealed in a six-page letter written by Ewatski to chairman of the Police Service Commission Professor Ramesh Deosaran.

In the letter, Ewatski stated: “My refusal to sign the appraisal was rooted in my belief that the process used to evaluate my performance was seriously flawed, rendering the results invalid.” And as the controversy into the performance of both Gibbs and Ewatski continues, Deosaran’s predecessor Nizam Mohammed and senior criminologist at the University of the West Indies in St Augustine Dr Randy Seepersad have called on Deosaran to justify whether the appraisals were fair and transparent.

Several calls to Deosaran’s home up to late yesterday went unanswered. Both Gibbs and Ewatski were graded as “fair”  by the commission. Questions have also arisen as to the fairness of a selection process of junior officers who formed part of a survey conducted by the commission pertaining to the management and human resource skills of Gibbs.

In the letter, Ewatski made it clear that he  could not simply “agree” or “disagree” as he was asked to do by the commission with “unsound findings.” “My refusal to sign was a refusal to validate an objectionable process,” he said.  The letter, dated February 29, 2012, was copied to National Security Minister John Sandy, Director of Personnel Administration Gloria Edwards-Joseph and commission members Martin George, Jacqueline Cheesman, Kerry Parker and Addison Khan.

According to the letter, Ewatski, on February 16, 2012, attended a meeting with the commission for the purpose of discussing and signing off the performance appraisal report relating to his role as deputy commissioner. “I declined, at that time, to sign the performance appraisal which was presented to me,” he said.

“I will begin by stating emphatically that I neither question nor challenge the Police Service Commission’s authority or responsibility to evaluate my performance. “I have publicly stated that I would welcome such an evaluation. “A properly-designed and well- conducted performance evaluation is an invaluable tool for any organisation and for the individual being assessed.”

He cited that the cornerstones of any employee’s performance evaluation were clearly identified and included performance categories, indicators and targets. For the evaluation to be considered accurate, Ewatski wrote, the elements contained within the appraisal must be specific, pertinent, achievable and measurable.

“The identification of these elements is attained through meaningful consultation, collaborative discussion and general agreement between the assessor and the assessed,” he stated. “Furthermore, the process must be fair and transparent. “Therefore, these elements must be identified prior to the commencement of the evaluation period…They should not be applied retroactively.”

He stated that when he assumed office on September 20, 2010, he was provided with a document from the National Security Ministry titled—A Performance Mandate For the Commissioner of Police In A Changing Environment. “This contained the only clear mandate communicated to me relative to my role, and all actions and initiatives taken have aligned with that mandate,” he wrote.

“Aware of the existence of the Police Service Commission and of its role as an oversight mechanism, I fully expected that we would meet shortly after my engagement to develop an appropriate evaluation tool.” He said it was not until July 8, 2011, that such a meeting occurred.

During this meeting, he said, a proposed framework was presented by the commission to Gibbs, himself and Deputy Police Commissioners Mervyn Richardson and Stephen Williams, which contained selected categories, indicators and targets. “Though generally satisfied with the categories identified, sub-areas within each were identified as being problematic,” Ewatski said.

“The PSC agreed that we should reconvene to further clarify the specifics. “In a meeting held on September 27, 2011, we were informed that the proposed plan would be used retroactively as a measurement tool for the year 2010-2011. “We registered our protest at that time…We did not reconvene until January 19, 2012, at which time we were presented with a similar evaluation tool which was intended to be applied retroactively, however, expanded to include more arbitrarily selected indicators and targets.”

Expressing his concern by this development, Ewatski stated that the commission “clearly expected us to accept these criteria without having concerns addressed. “We rejected the document and the PSC, directed Dr Kerry Sumesar-Rai, director of Monitoring, Evaluation and Education, to meet with us within two weeks to rectify the outstanding issues…This meeting never occurred,” he said.

“On February 16, 2012, I was presented with what was described as a completed appraisal document, inclusive of comments and a rating of my performance. “Other than making a notation upon signifying that it had been presented to me, I refused to sign the appraisal document.

“To date, the PSC has not provided me with a copy of this particular appraisal.” In the letter, Ewatski defined six objectives which included:
• Retroactive application: To be able to achieve objectives and targets of a measurement tool, one must be made aware of them prior to the commencement of the evaluation period and one must be consulted in the selection of the indicators and targets so that they may be realistically achieved.
• The performance evaluation report presented to me on February 16, 2012, indicated the period of evaluation as January 1, 2011, to August 31, 2011.
If this tool was meant to be applied retroactively, the time frame does not correspond with either my employment service date or my service anniversary date. No justification for the arbitrarily selected dates was provided to me.
• In the category of Law Enforcement Reduction in the number of road traffic accidents: the report indicates for the period of evaluation as January 8, 2011, to March 2011.
This does not correspond to the total evaluation period of the performance review nor was any explanation provided for the drastically reduced period of evaluation.
• In the category of Public Trust and Confidence: a national survey is indicated as providing public feedback on such areas as police visibility, response time, satisfaction levels—victims of crime and overall satisfaction.
“I was not consulted in this formulation, nor have I received any indication of when and how this survey was conducted, as well as who was surveyed and by whom,” Ewatski said.
“I was not provided with a hard copy of either the survey or its results.”

Information not utilised by the commission
A host of initiatives conducted by both Gibbs and Ewatski were left out in the performance evaluation, Ewatski also said in his letter. “I question why this information, as well as previously submitted information from the Commissioner of Police, was not utilised in this performance evaluation process,” he added.

Ewatski also wrote that he was aware that the commission sought information from others, including the Ministry of National Security in these roles. “My participation in an exercise with the office of law enforcement policy identified the numerous actions, activities and initiatives undertaken in these areas,” he said.

In the letter, Ewatski outlined initiatives formulated. He said the 21st Century Policing initiative could not merely be seen as a crime-reduction strategy as it also addressed issues of human resource effectiveness and efficiency. “The patrol/response deployment component results not only in a higher level of police visibility, but also in more timely response to calls for service,” he said.

“Public safety and citizen confidence are both enhanced because citizens feel safer by having police officers in positions to interrupt crimes in progress or to respond to crimes that have occurred. “Human resource management is further enhanced through the hiring of civilians to perform station duties, which allowed police officers to concentrate on their operational duties outside of the station.

“The new compressed work week shift schedule results in having more police officers working at any given time…As well, it provides for a greater work/life balance which is intended.”

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