President David Granger yesterday declined to make public his reasons for not choosing Assistant Commissioner David Ramnarine for Commissioner of Police although he had been acting in that position for some time.
On Thursday, it was revealed that Assistant Commissioner Leslie James would be appointed top cop and he would be assisted by four Deputy Commissioners: Lyndon Alves, Maxine Graham, Nigel Hoppie and Paul Williams. Those appointments took immediate effect.
Opposition leader Bharrat Jagdeo had said that Granger told him during a meeting that there were “specific reasons” why Ramnarine was not chosen but he did not elaborate.
Asked during a press conference yesterday about those reasons, the President did not give any but insisted that the appointment was made in line with the advice he received from the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC).
He reiterated that the selection of the police commissioner is regulated by the Constitution. “It is an extremely important position and every stage of the selection process is mandated in the Constitution,” he declared. He added that it involved the appointment of the Chairman of the Public Service Commission who would then become a member of the PSC. He said once in place, the members of the PSC have to meet and deliberate. “Once they deliberated, I was required under the Constitution to consult with the Chairman of the Police Service Commission. So all that was done and I received recommendations from him and by and large, I felt those recommendations were reasonable and I followed those recommendations and I am not going to disclose what those recommendations were but my final decision was based largely on the consultation that I had with the Chairman of the Police Service Commission,” Granger explained.
He disclosed that the Chairman conducted interviews and had access to files, not only of current events in the police force but of historic events. “So that when you find officers who have been serving for 30 years, there has been a record of their performance for a long period of time and I rely very heavily on the advice I got, the advice I was required to receive from the Police Service Commission. So as far as the selection process is concerned, I can justify my decisions and I am sure if you spoke to the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, he is prepared to justify his recommendations to me,” he added.
Ramnarine, who had served as acting Police Commissioner since the retirement of Seelall Persaud earlier this year, was the most senior rank in the force prior to the appointments. It is unclear what will happen to him now.
With Ramnarine being passed over, Jagdeo told reporters during a press conference on Thursday that during the meeting with Granger, he did raise questions about Ramnarine. “…That he was the acting Commissioner of Police and that there was the expectation that he will be selected and [the] president indicated to me that there are specific reasons why he was not selected. He did not share what those reasons were,” Jagdeo said.
He later said that he could not give an informed view about the non-selection of Ramnarine as he did not have enough information about the process.
An inquiry into the police force’s handling of an alleged plot to kill the president last year had concluded that Ramnarine, and others, lacked the professionalism to lead the Guyana Police Force.
The inquiry, which was conducted by now Chairman of the PSC Assistant Commissioner (ret’d) Paul Slowe, recommended that the officers that played a key role in the investigation, including Ramnarine, be reassigned, possibly to positions outside of the police force, based on their conduct.
Jagdeo insisted that during the meeting, he did seek to find out about the selection process, saying that he let it be known that he did not have a positive or adverse reaction to the names and did not want to rely on “rumours.”