CLINT CHAN TACK
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday declared the House of Representatives is being called upon to appoint a permanent Commissioner of Police (CoP), “at a time where the streets of TT are killing fields and the Police Service is in dire need of revolutionary leadership.”
He expressed frustration that the House could not decide on the nominations of Acting Deputy Commissioner Deodath Dulalchan as CoP, Dulalchan as Deputy CoP or Acting Deputy Commissioner Harold Phillip as Deputy CoP, because of considerable public disquiet about the process whereby they were chosen by the Police Service Commission (PSC).
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar agreed with Rowley that given the importance of a CoP in the fight against crime, the House must be certain the process to select the nominees was not compromised.
Against this background, Leader of Government Business Camille Robinson-Regis moved that debate on Dulalchan’s nomination be suspended.
A motion was subsequently moved to appoint a special select committee (SSC) which will examine the process, information and documents used by the PSC and the recruiting firm KPMG, to select Dulalchan, Phillip and others.
These committees are empowered under Standing Orders 111 and 112 of the House.
Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Fitzgerald Hinds, Housing Minister Randall Mitchell, La Brea MP Nicole Olivierre, St Joseph MP Terrence Deyalsingh, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal and Chaguanas West MP Ganga Singh are members of the SSC.
Unlike a joint select committee, which includes members from the House and Senate, an SSC only comprises members of the House in which it exists.
Debate on the notifications of Dulalchan and Phillip were suspended until the SSC reports back to the House on March 31.
Recalling that as opposition leader he said the process to select a CoP and Deputy CoP is unacceptable, Rowley said, “Today it is with great disappointment that I have to ask this House to acknowledge that we are not in a position to conclude this process to the satisfaction of the wider national community.”
Reminding MPs that the last permanent CoP was Canadian citizen Dwayne Gibbs in 2012, Rowley observed, “Every citizen has an interest in the effective functioning of the Police Service.”
He hoped appointment of a permanent CoP would, “begin to build a new tomorrow in TT and restore into our community, a Police Service whose leadership is beyond reproach.”
Rowley said it is unacceptable that he as prime minister and the Government have no insight into or involvement in the process of selecting a CoP. As such, he like other citizens, had to rely on what was published as speculation or inside information in the newspaper or on television, to learn about the people being considered for CoP and Deputy CoP. Rowley said this was a good example of “dysfunctionality” in an aspect of governance.
In supporting the establishment of a SSC, Persad-Bissessar agreed with Rowley on all of the allegations raised about the PSC’s selection process and about some of its nominees.
“It is not for us to judge the truth of these allegations, but what it is for us to do, is ensure there is a transparent process,” she said.