Former head of the Police Service Commission, Professor Ramesh Deosaran yesterday called for the police service to be depoliticised and the retirement age of officers to be increased by five years.
Speaking at a retiree function at the Police Academy, st James yesterday, Deosaran said: “The police service should be depoliticised as far as possible in order to gain citizens’ confidence to serve as witnesses, to report on illegal guns and drugs, and even on police misconduct. The police complaint bureaucracy should be decentralised from Port of Spain into various outlying districts as far as possible.”
The criminologist added that the police service has now become more vulnerable to political pressure and one way to resist that is for the police to do what is right and do it the right way. The management of the police is being subjected to intense public and political scrutiny, he said. This is due to the “colourful character” of Police Commissioner Gary Griffith; the unsettling political process in how Griffith was appointed and the troubling murder rate and low detection rate among other matters.
He complimented the cadre of dedicated officers he worked closely with saying some of them, who have since retired, will win in a fight against a lion and have much to offer. This, he said, motivated him to request that the retirement age for officers be increased by five years. He said for second division officers, retirement should be raised from 55 to 60 and for first division from 60 to 65. This should be subjected to audited performances and approved fitness. If approved, he suggested that officers willing to retire at the now existing ages must apply to the Police Commissioner for permission.
Deosaran recalled the days when being a police officer was “liked and respected, even feared.” His mother’s taunting that police was coming for him for doing something wrong made him rush beneath his bed and hide inside of a grip (old suitcase), he said.
After close to 60 years of independence, the police service, he said, is expected to have developed top-level intelligence gathering systems, sophisticated investigative and surveillance techniques, effective management, leadership and human resource capabilities. He added that there is no need for foreign police officers but the necessary training from foreign countries to develop local police is welcomed.
While complimenting the service for all that it has done, Deosaran called for a new system of entry “to enhance the professionalism, career commitment, public reputation and integrity of the service.”
“The Manpower Audit, after hearing from key stakeholders in crime and security, civic and business organizations, and examining the results from the training academy, recommended pre-entry certification in specialised programmes for police science, surveillance, intelligence, security management.”
He said the new recruits need 21st century preparation before entering, and then on entering to do practicals at the Police Academy.
“The sequence of preparation and continued professional development will include a certificate, diploma, degree and specialised short courses. The police service must be seen as a preferred and lasting career commitment.”