It is really pathetic that after years of delays and reported expenditure of $7 million, the selection process for the post of Police Commissioner has become, yet again, embroiled in controversy. We are only in the first month of 2018 and the murder tally for the year has already hit 55. Now is not the time for the appointment of the top cop to become a bone of contention.
However, there are already too many questions over the process.
In the first place, the law as it relates to this appointment is unwieldy and places undue emphasis on the approval of political actors.
Serious attention must be paid to the recommendations of criminologist Prof Ramesh Deosaran who has proposed, in a report submitted to Cabinet, that the top cop be directly elected by the ordinary people whose lives are at stake.
But the law is one thing, the way that law is implemented is another. Deosaran and others such as former Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman Kenneth Lalla SC have raised serious questions over whether, in this instance, all processes have been properly followed.
If we are to believe the reports that have emerged, the PSC must state: why candidates for lower positions were considered for higher posts; whether it acted without a lawful quorum; and whether it paid due regard to submissions placed before it by statutory bodies such as the Police Complaints Authority (PCA). It is important that the PSC is as transparent as possible on this matter, which is of great import and which has already cost taxpayers so dearly.
In terms of the PCA, we make no adverse statement in relation to any particular candidate. But we are of the view that while the law does not formally give the PCA a role in the selection process, concerns raised by that body should be given some weight in the selection process. If the PSC has been hamstrung by the law as currently formulated, then it is for MPs to consider these issues in the debate of candidates chosen. Furthermore, it is for MPs to come together to reform the selection process.
That reform is long overdue.
It is incredulous that the current top cop has been acting in the post for 12 terms. An acting appointee sends the wrong signal and diminishes the authority of the entire law enforcement apparatus given the crucial role played by the police in maintaining law and order.
This latest imbroglio is an opportunity for the Government and the Opposition to come together to fix a defective system. Both sides need to formulate an effective, non-partisan solution for the sake of the nation.