President David Granger has started a process to identify which of the eight Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACPs) will be his nominee for the post of substantive Police Commissioner, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan confirmed today.
Ramjattan when contacted was tightlipped, only saying that the process for identifying the top cop nominee as well as two Deputy Commissioners began last week.
Stabroek News understands that Assistant Commissioners, David Ramnarine, who is the acting police commissioner and considered the next in line for the top post, Clifton Hicken, Leslie James, Lyndon Alves, Marlon Chapman, Paul Williams, Nigel Hoppie and Maxine Graham were interviewed by a panel which included the President and Ramjattan last week. The interview which included a written component was held at the Ministry of the Presidency.
Sources close to the process, say that while all eight are “fit and proper”, they each have different strengths. It was also noted that given the fact that they are all of “equivalent” standing, they can be appointed to either of the two posts. It was for this reason that the interviews were done to determine who are the candidates best suited.
Based on what this newspaper was told the president is looking at taking one name for the top cop post to Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo. The law requires that there be meaningful consultation between the President and the Opposition Leader with respect to the appointment of a substantive Police Commissioner. Former Police Commissioner, Seelall Persaud retired early last month.
Jagdeo had told this newspaper that during his tenure as President he conducted two assessments of the top four ranks of the force before making a choice for police commissioner. At the end of that assessment Winston Felix, who was appointed Police Commissioner in 2004 and retired in 2006 and who is the current Minister of Citizenship, was chosen.
“..the way I approached it when Felix was named is that I took the top four candidates, the top people in the force at that time, had an assessment done, sent them abroad, had a second assessment done and from the four I chose Felix who came out the best,” he had told Stabroek News during an interview.
Some have said that Granger should consider a similar approach.
Historically, the appointee has been selected based on seniority. Speculation is now rife as to whether or not the president’s choice to replace Persaud will follow such a principle.
While the constitution gives Granger the power to appoint the police commissioner, it is up to the Police Service Commission (PSC) to choose the Deputy Commissioners.
The life of the Commission came to an end more than six months ago. Shortly before its life ended, the commission was instructed by the president to halt its considerations of police promotions. The names of several senior officers were noticeably absent from the list, which had been compiled by Persaud. Granger had justified his actions by stating that letters of complaints and an apparent compromised nomination process caused him to intervene.
Stabroek News was told today that the names for this commission have already been settled and its reconstitution would be dealt with when the president returns from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit.
“Once the members are sworn in the names of the eight assistant commissioners will be sent for their consideration. Four are required but the president is looking to have two appointed”, a source said. It is unclear why the President is looking at this issue when it is not within his remit.
Jagdeo has accused Granger of deliberately dragging his feet on the PSC issue because he “wants to get rid of some people, to cleanse the force.” Granger had publicly said that the Commission would be reconstituted by the end of last year.
Jagdeo said that the failure of the President to keep his promise would damage the image of the force. He also accused the President of attacking the ranks.
“The policemen are under assault now. I looked at the President’s speech when he addressed the officers [at the annual officers’ conference]. The President has to speak frankly; he has concerns, he has to express that to the officers in an open manner but …he did it in a manner that was demeaning, that is demoralising…,” he stated.