The public’s concern about Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee’s attempts to divert from the substantive issue of having the Police account for the spending of $90 million of our taxes, tells us it is time public officials be held accountable or we’ll all be consumed. The minister’s antics and unwillingness to have the Auditor General inquire into the whereabouts of our money by using the forthrightness of Assistant Commissioner David Ramnarine to silence him and others, even as the integrity of the Force is called into question, suggests there is something to hide.
His claim that a Standing Order for who speaks with the media has been breached cannot hold sway. For the spirit and intent of any Standing Order can never be to encourage silence in the face of violations or egregious conduct in a nation governed by laws that shun said behaviours. Our police force is a constitutional body and any Standing Order informing their conduct has to be consistent with this instrument. To therefore accuse the Officer of “set[ting] a bad example for the Force under cover of his constitutional rights,” brings into question the extent the minister is prepared to go to cover up this issue. For if a person cannot seek cover under the Constitution, which remains the foundational and supreme law of the land, then anarchy reigns.
The minister is reminded of prior dire consequences this nation suffered under the guise of upholding said Standing Order that secured silence in the face of wrongs which threatened our lives and statehood. The association of his former colleague with a U.S. fugitive who boasted of helping the government in crime fighting that saw the entrenchment of a narco-economy, persons holding themselves above the law, phantom squads, rogue police, rampant crimes and the murder of hundreds, still lingers. The illegal collaboration of state and private citizens with questionable background saw the police stripped of their legal standing and made impotent as rogue elements ran amok and fear stalked the land. The resulting effect has hindered the police/community relationship, vital for crime fighting and ensuring the security of all.
There is no doubt morale in the Force is not at its optimum, a contributing factor being the minister’s disembowelment of this institution that by law ought to serve and protect the people, their resources and sovereignty.
Yet in the midst of the prevailing hindrances there are still police who take pride in their career, are role models for their children, loved ones and the community. For some these are values held dearly which the minister overlooks or is unmindful of, as he seeks to cut down exemplary behaviour.
And even as the minister claims the Police must obey the Standing Order, he ignores or hopes the society will ignore the fact that he addressed the matter in the media, and brought into disrepute the officers’ integrity. It is his actions that led to the Officers having to represent themselves through the said medium. Apparently he was hedging his bet that he can compromise the Force and undermine their relationship with the public and escape having to account.
Now that Leroy Brummell, Commissioner of Police (ag), is instructed by the minister to discipline Ramnarine, he needs to be mindful of his action(s). For clearly, if not handled with deftness, he places himself in a position where he will: 1) earn the disrespect of the society he is paid to serve and protect and, 2) undermine the Force and bring it into disrepute with a society needing answers and whose cooperation it depends on to be successful. For this request also conveys a veiled implication that he either delivers or his confirmation would be threatened, which is an abuse of privilege by a minister who has thus far abrogated his responsibility to account.
The minister ought to be careful. For while he claims he has lost confidence in Ramnarine and wants him disciplined, the society is keenly following this matter and their confidence in him is fast eroding. A workforce that is already overtaxed and underpaid has little tolerance for the continued misappropriation and abuse of their money. Hence, the minister needs to focus on the substantive issue and stop making Ramnarine his scapegoat. For his is the responsibility to provide leadership by encouraging Brummell to get to the bottom of the matter and give the nation honest answers.