The pool for a confirmed commissioner of police may get smaller if it is decided that the entire process has to be redone. This, after acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams said, come September, he would be going on his accumulated vacation taking him into retirement.
Williams spoke with Sunday Newsday yesterday at the National Security Ministry’s Sports and Family Day held at the Prisons Grounds, Arouca. Williams first hinted at early retirement at a function that celebrated his 39th year as a police officer last month. Yesterday, he confirmed that his accumulated vacation leave would take him into his retirement.
In 2010, Dwayne Gibbs was selected as top cop after Parliament rejected another Canadian Neal Parker for the position. Parker, who had placed first in an evaluation exercise conducted by the Justice and Safety Institute of Penn State University, was rejected after it was discovered that he had sat on the evaluation team that reviewed CoP candidates in 2008. In 2008, Penn State had recommended Williams to lead the police service but he was rejected by the then PNM government.
When Gibbs was selected, Williams was confirmed as deputy commissioner of police (DCP) by Penn State and remains the only confirmed DCP. All others held the position as acting DCPs. Another Canadian, Jack Ewatski, was also appointed as a DCP at that time. Both Gibbs and Ewatski resigned two years into their tenure and were paid in full although their early departure was in breach of their three-year contract.
Following that premature ejection, Williams was appointed to act as Police Commissioner and has been acting since and having received 12 six-month extensions. The last race for top cop was cut short after the Police Service Commission (PSC) submitted the name of acting DCP Deodat Dulalchan to be appointed as top cop although he only applied for the position of DCP.
Former head of the PSC Prof Ramesh Deosaran said Williams deserved an apology from Cabinet, Parliament, former president Anthony Carmona, and the PSC for never confirming him. Deosaran called the multiple extensions a “Caribbean record-breaker,” noting the practice would have had “troubling downstream consequences” as other senior officers also remained in acting positions for long periods. Deosaran made the comment at the 33rd Annual Conference of the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police, in Jamaica last month.
Asked yesterday if he felt dejected by his non-confirmation, Williams said: “No. I am content. I am going to live here for the rest of my family, my children and grandchildren. I gave a 100 per cent for my country and that is why, now, I am focusing on the youth, because if we can sway them in the positive then there will be less criminals in the future but a lot of people are not getting on board with that. Plenty people are just talk.”
Williams, when asked if he would re-apply for the CoP position, said he could not answer that question as the selection process, which chose Dulalchan, was deemed flawed by a special select committee (SSC) of Parliament requested by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
The SSC was split along political lines with opposition MP’s wanting to affirm Dulalchan in a minority report while Government MP’s felt the process used by the PSC to select nominees for CoP and DCP was “defective and unreliable.” The committee felt this could expose the PSC to “allegations of arbitrariness and a lack of transparency.” Williams added that the outcome has not been determined and, therefore, it would be premature to answer that.
Williams, unless his vacation is bought out by the State, will have to proceed on vacation into his 2020 retirement. Williams celebrates his 58th birthday in August and, as a first division officer, will retire at 60.