Tough job to find new T&T top cop – PSC

(Trinidad Express) The Police Service Commission (PSC) is in “wonder-land” over when a substantive Police Commissioner will be appointed in this country.

PSC chairman Professor Ramesh Deosaran made the statement yesterday at a press conference held by the PSC at its new offices located at the corner of Pasea Main Road and the Churchill Roosevelt Highway in Tunapuna to discuss the appointment of the Commissioner of Police and the two deputy Commissioners of Police.

Stephen Williams’ appointment as acting Police Commissioner officially comes to an end on January 31 next year.

Williams assumed the reins of the Police Service following the resignation of the country’s last substantive Police Commissioner Canadian Dr Dwayne Gibbs on August 7.

But even as Williams’ acting tenure comes to end next month, the process of finding a substantive Police Commissioner to fill the vacancy is nowhere near completion, Deosaran said.

Deosaran yesterday distanced the PSC from any blame in relation to the delay in the appointment of a substantive Police Commissioner.

Any assertion that the PSC is “dragging its feet” in the matter is “unreasonable”, Deosaran said yesterday.

The delay in the appointment rests solely with the Director of Personnel Administration (DPA) Gloria Edwards-Joseph, he said.

According to Legal Notice # 102 of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago the DPA’s office has to firstly contract a firm to conduct the assessment process for selecting the country’s Police Commissioner.

This has not yet been done, Deosaran said.

The DPA’s office was awaiting funding from the national budget to determine what funds were available to conduct the process, Deosaran said.

Deosaran blamed the current law for the process being “overly cumbersome” in the selection of a Police Commissioner.

“It really looks as an overly cumbersome, unnecessary, convoluted and complicated process. In other words it looks as a tangled web,” Deosaran said.

Because of this “tangled web” Deosaran said it is unlikely a new Police Commissioner will be selected before January 31.

“Because of the complication you have here we have not had a short list yet so the inference is pretty clear as to what will happen when January 31 comes,” he said.

The inference is that Williams will be given another six month stint as acting Police Commissioner.

An assessment of Williams’s tenure as acting Police Commissioner is expected to be completed by January 17, Deosaran said.

On January 17 the PSC will announce what would be done in relation to the post of Police Commissioner, he said.

“The government should take a very serious look at this because we cannot exist with these circumstances on such a very important matter as having a police commissioner and the deputy commissioners appointed expeditiously because you cannot have persons acting over and over again as we had in previous times it raises the questions of public confidence and low morale in the police service and it also has the person occupying the acting position in a very tenuous state and it also has the Police Service Commission now in wonder-land,” he said.

Deosaran said the PSC was not just about describing the dilemma but was ready to remedy the problem.

Edwards-Joseph was invited to yesterday’s meeting but is currently “on leave”, Deosaran said.

He described the relationship between the DPA and the PSC as an “excellent” one.

A review team chaired by Deosaran and which included Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and National Security Minister Jack Warner and Opposition Member of Parliament Donna Cox, was stipulated to make recommendations to correct the problems affecting the selection process of a Police Commissioner.

Deosaran said he wanted to give the “gift” of these recommendations to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar before Christmas.

The review team is said to have made 40 recommendations to make the process easier.