While criminologist Professor Ramesh Deosaran says the public should be more involved in the overall process of governance, his Police Service Manpower Audit Committee (MAC) yesterday flatly rejected the idea of any civilian ever becoming Commissioner of Police.
The committee was asked their views to improve the management and oversight of the Police Service (TTPS) by a Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security chaired by Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds at the Parliament Tower, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain. The current short-list for Police Commissioner includes former minister of national security Gary Griffith who owns a security company but is not a police officer. JSC member and Minister of Public Utilities Robert Le Hunte said pilots rarely run airlines so why should only police be considered to be Commissioner when considering larger management skills needed to run an organisation.
MAC member Dr Levis Guy-Obiakor, an international security consultant, replied, “We did look at that. You can be a manager but there must be support. You’ll not get the support of the rank and file with an individual from outside.”
MAC member attorney Allan Meiguel agreed, saying the TTPS still has its traditional quasi-military culture, adding, “That is perhaps what is keeping it afloat at this moment.”
MAC member ACP Harold Phillip said, “Internationally, appointments from people outside the police service have not been successful.”
Deosaran urged that the Police Service Commission (PSC) which oversees the naming of a commissioner and deputy commissioner should become a full-time body expanded from five to seven members and disconnected from the Director of Personnel Administration (DPA), or be replaced by a Police Oversight Board supplemented by a ground-level Police Inspectorate.
He also defended the MAC’s proposal for the public to elect a CoP. “It creates a greater obligation for the CoP to respond to community concerns, a direct form of accountability.” Le Hunte decried the creation of new structures to fix a simple problem such as an office-holder who is not doing his/her job.
Deosaran wondered how the wheels of the TTPS are still turning given low public confidence in the police. Guy-Obiakor said lack of trust in the police is notable in Tobago where boatloads of marijuana and Venezuelans illegally enter, yet residents are afraid to testify in the law-courts.
Deosaran said the TTPS Human Resource Unit is “in disarray”, prodding the JSC’s Independent Senator Paul Richards to ask how the CoP could function.