The process of appointing three substantive deputy commissioners of police by the Police Service Commission (PSC) is not likely to be completed in time to help Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith set up a tribunal to investigate a senior police officer accused of moonlighting as a security consultant while on vacation.
The commission, in response to queries from Newsday, said while the bureaucratic process for selecting a shortlist of potential candidates for the vacancies of deputy commissioner had reached an advanced state, it could not be completed before ACP Irwin Hackshaw retires in early November.
The PCA is also investigating allegations that Hackshaw collected over $2 million from the same people to whom he allegedly provided services in his capacity as a security consultant to help off-set costs of official social events of the Police Service, but deposited the money in his personal accounts.
The results of that investigation are scheduled to be submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions within two weeks, according to the PCA and contrary to the public statements of the CoP that that matter had also ended without any proof to support the allegations.
The PCA, on August 6, recommended to the CoP that he set up a tribunal to investigate allegations against Hackshaw on claims that he did private work for pay without the permission of acting CoP's Stephen Williams and Harold Phillip.
The development came in the midst of the general election campaign, which concluded on August 10, and a serious medical problem that left Griffith on sick leave and warded at the St Clair Medical Centre with an inflamed gallbladder.
Griffith, who has been in office for two years, returned to active duty on Monday.
On Tuesday, Griffith criticised the PCA and berated the director, David West, publicly for disclosing the recommendation in a media release on Tuesday, accusing the organisation of bias.
The CoP went further and dismissed a Sunday Newsday story which relied on the opinions of seasoned lawyers who said he could initiate the disciplinary action even though he was the only officer in the police service above Hackshaw's rank to take action, as prescribed by the Police Service Regulations.
But the following day, Griffith served notice on Hackshaw, who is on vacation until next week, of the disciplinary charges.
Griffith said he would not have been in the present situation if the commission had filled he vacancies of the three deputy commissioners.
The two acting DCPs, Jayson Forde and McDonald Jacob, are both junior in rank in their substantive positions – as ACPs – to Hackshaw. The only other officer senior to him – ACP Earla Christopher – is on pre-retirement leave.
Hackshaw has 14 days to respond to the notice served on him by the commissioner. To take the matter forward, Griffith has to inform Hackshaw who is the person appointed to investigate the matter.
This is where the CoP says he has found himself in a constitutional conundrum, as he cannot initiate the disciplinary action as the only senior officer to Hackshaw, and then appoint himself as the investigator and subsequently deliberate on the appropriate punishment if Hackshaw is found guilty.
Griffith and the head of the police service legal unit, Christian Chandler, on Tuesday described the disciplinary charges against Hackshaw as a minor infraction and said Griffith was constrained to act as he would be "judge, jury and executioner."
According to the commission, Hackshaw served as acting deputy commissioner from December 2, 2019, to May 31. He also had a short stint as acting CoP in Griffith's absence, During that time he wrote to Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal to tell him he was not under investigation for gang-related offences, a highly unusual decision by a sitting commissioner of police.
In its release, the commission said the contract to hire a private recruitment firm to selected potential nominees for the post of deputy commissioner was only finalised on July 24.
"Based on the project plan and agreed timelines, it is expected that the commission will have the recommendations from the firm by the end of December 2020. Thereafter the commission will take steps to produce an order of merit list and submit same to Her Excellency the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in accordance with the procedure as set out in Section 123(2) and (3) of the Constitution."