Ramjattan favours constitutional process for choosing Top Cop

Following a suggestion that the post of Police Commissioner should be advertised before the appointment of a new office holder, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan yesterday said he is in  favour of continuing to adhere to the constitutional process already in place to fill the vacancy.

“I believe that there is a process under the Constitution and that constitutional process should be adhered to. If at the gathering of more candidates you need an advertisement that will be entirely a question on the president’s part. The president is the one who makes the appointment of a Police Commissioner based on consultations with the leader of the opposition and I think after consultation with the Police Service Commission,” Ramjattan said in response to a question from the Stabroek News at a press conference yesterday.

Over the weekend, in his weekly Sunday Stabroek Conversation Tree column, Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran opined that the post of Police Commissioner should be advertised. He argued that President David Granger had initiated such a search for candidates for the positions of Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice and that it was productive.

“Consistency demands that the position of Commissioner of Police be similarly advertised so as to attract the best qualified from Guyana and the region,” Ramkarran, a former two-term Speaker of the National Assembly, wrote.

Ramkarran said that when appointed, the new Commissioner will discern that without the cooperation of the public in relation to information and intelligence, the capacity of the police to solve crime would be severely diminished.

“It appears that such cooperation was significantly enhanced during the tenure of Commissioner Seelall Persaud. This saw a heightened crime resolving effort by the police which deteriorated as soon as the police came under public attack at the recent inquiry [into the alleged assassination plot against President Granger] and the negative consequences of that inquiry. It is hoped that under new leadership the police will revive its effort at good community relations which is recognized the world over as vital to crime-solving,” he further said.

Ramkarran added that the new Top Cop will also appreciate that good relations with the community depends on fair and balanced investigation of complaints by members of the public against the police. He added that as far as the public is aware, there are two bodies which are concerned with this area, namely, the Office of Professional Responsibi-lity – the police internal affairs unit – and the Police Complaints Authority.

Their jurisdictions and mandates are not clearly delineated in the public mind, he said.

Historically, the app-ointment of a Police Commissioner has followed the seniority principle. A replacement for Persaud is yet to be named and speculation is rife as to whether or not the choice will follow the seniority principle.

Ramjattan stated that he was “comfortable with that set up.” In August last year, the life of the previously constituted Police Service Commission (PSC) ended. Asked yesterday when a new commission will be constituted, Ramjattan reminded that it had been previously stated by President David Granger and Minister of State Joseph Harmon that there are some names and that those persons would be appointed shortly. Ramjattan could not say when the appointments will be made but said that the matter is with the Ministry of the Presidency.

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