THE NARROW timeline for the invitation, submission and evaluation of applications to the post of Commissioner of Police is a matter of grave concern at a moment in our history when leadership of the police is of paramount importance.
CoP Gary Griffith’s term, the country has been told, ends on August 18.
Yet invitations inviting applications were only published on Wednesday.
Candidates have been asked to access further information hosted on a website and told that all the required documentation can only be submitted in a prescribed form through a specific online portal, no later than next Tuesday.
This seemingly gives the Police Service Commission (PSC) – which is handling the recruitment process for the first time without a consultant – less than a month to complete the evaluation and vetting of candidates for one of the country’s most sensitive security posts. All this is under a brand-new process recently promulgated by the Government.
Additionally, it is likely MPs will have to be recalled from their regular recess for an emergency session to debate this matter once the PSC and President Paula-Mae Weekes complete their respective roles.
It is possible, though not appropriate, for the PSC to appoint an acting official as a stop-gap.
It should be noted that much time has been saved by some of the changes wrought by the Government, which have removed the time-consuming and expensive role of expert recruiters.
None of this is justification for the late hour, however. It was known that Mr Griffith’s term would expire next month the moment he assumed office three years ago.
The PSC may well have held its hand because it had wind of the Government’s plans. That is a disturbing thought.
But whether acting in concert or not, both the Cabinet and the commission are wrong to have dragged their feet. Their actions now open the door to the return of the era of perpetually acting top cops.
In relation to the PSC, Ms Weekes confidently expressed the view that the reappointment of chairman Bliss Seepersad was lawful, since previous contract work for the State did not technically disqualify her from the independent body. In a rare move, the President dismissed the concerns on this point recently raised by UNC Senator Wade Mark.
But former PNM finance minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira, an attorney, has also raised questions in relation to the current situation. She has cited enormous gaps in the law relating to how the President is to function when supplied with a full list of candidates under the new process.
The Government has changed the process. But with this rushed timeline and its constraints, it appears some things in TT will never change.