GOVERNMENT and the Opposition yesterday quarrelled in the House of Representatives about whether the Special Select Committee (SSC) appointed to examine the selection process for selecting a Commissioner of Police (CoP) had an agenda.
Opening debate in the House on a motion to note the SSC’s report, Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds declared, “The focus was not on the candidate, it was on the process.”
Hinds, who was SSC chairman, added, “Your committee had no agenda. The committee took a non-partisan approach.”
Hinds rejected Chaguanas West MP Ganga Singh’s claim that he and acting Deputy Police Commissioner Deodat Dulalchan served together as police officers. Singh was also an SSC member. At the tea break, Hinds told Newsday, “I trained in the Police Service in 1976 and my number is 9638. Nobody else will ever have that number. In 1981, I was Dulalchan’s instructor. I was a police instructor, he was a trainee and I would have trained him along with hundreds of others for six months.”
Hinds said he is not a member of the Police Service Commission (PSC). “My job is not to assess candidates. Therefore, whether I knew him or did not know him, was to my mind, simply irrelevant.”
As a parliamentarian, Hinds said, “Everything I reported here today had to do with the process and nothing to do with personalities.” Once debate on the motion is completed, Hinds said MPs would be better informed when debate resumes on a motion to approve the nominations of Dulalchan as CoP and Harold Phillip as DCP.
Hinds said that debate should take place in the House on Friday. MPs will vote then whether or not to confirm Dulalchan and Phillip’s nominations. Hinds described the selection process as “unsafe, unsound and unsatisfactory.” He said the PSC was more involved in the selection process than it should have been. Hinds said the SSC was concerned how people who never applied for CoP or DCP posts, “emerged on the top of the list.” None of the candidates had polygraph testing, he disclosed.
La Brea MP Nicole Olivierre said the SSC was concerned the PSC chose to disregard information from the Police Complaints Authority about disciplinary action being recommended against a CoP candidate. She disagreed with Singh that 12 per cent involvement by the PSC in the selection process was not improper. Olivierre explained, the presence of PSC members in different stages of the process “introduced the full sweep of bias.” The SSC’s creation, Olivierre added, was the PSC “crying out to the Parliament for help.”
However Singh demanded, “Appoint Deodat Dulalchan as CoP.” He insisted the PSC had done nothing wrong. Singh argued that only the courts could determine whether the PSC had broken the law. “MPs cannot be judges,” he declared. Singh said a previous People’s National Movement (PNM) government had “jettisoned the selection process” for a CoP. Claiming there was an agenda by the Government, Singh quipped, “That is the DNA of the PNM.”