THE chaos that has followed on the challenge of the temporary appointments of Gary Griffith and McDonald Jacob has exposed an inexcusable carelessness in crafting and executing of procedures for appointing the leadership of the police service.
Between 2007 and 2018, TT was dramatically underserved by a series of acting appointments for the position of top cop as deadlocks in the decision-making process dragged on for more than a decade.
The issue was highlighted on Thursday by Justice Nadia Kangaloo who in ruling that the appointments of Griffith and Jacob were unlawful, made it embarrassingly clear that there were missteps which have muddled the process.
Under the process outlined by Section 123 (1)(a), the Police Service Commission (PSC) prepares a merit list of suitable candidates, submits it to the President, who in turn submits the list of substantive and acting appointments to the House of Representatives for consideration and approval.
This vexing lack of clarity in the appointment of a police commissioner and the acting appointments of first Mr Griffith and then Mr Jacob led to the collapse of the entire PSC, growing public concern on how the process was managed, and diminished confidence in the governance structure.
The facts surrounding the 2021 Order of Merit list for the appointment of a CoP are these.
The PSC completed its shortlist of candidates for the role of CoP on August 09 and submitted the list, along with two candidates to act in the role, Mr Griffith and Mr Jacob, to the President on August 11.
The list was, according to a statement by the President yesterday, immediately withdrawn.
The President raised a query about Legal Notice 183, which allows the selection of an acting candidate who has been on contract to act as CoP.
The PSC found no merit or cause for action in the query and proceeded to appoint an acting CoP. Legal Notices 103 and 183 were struck down by Justice Kangaloo in her court ruling last week.
Further clouding these matters is the Prime Minister's inopportune announcement on Saturday that he had lost confidence a year ago in Mr Griffith as police commissioner.
Back then, the PM and Griffith had notable public disagreements, regarding a private gathering of more than five people at Bayside Towers in Cocorite and over Mr Rowley's ongoing concerns about Cambridge Analytica.
Is the PM suggesting that he expects a CoP to always be compliant with the prevailing views of the Government, especially on matters of public concern?
That political imperatives and execution of the letter of the law should be yoked together in mutual agreement?
The PM's statement on Saturday is as distracting and unhelpful as the Opposition Leader's motion against the President following her PSC selection of attorney Ernest Koylass, SC, whom the Opposition Leader alleges is a supporter of the PNM.
What's needed now is less political posturing and greater clarity in law, strict adherence to governance process and suitable urgency and transparency in the critical appointments of police leadership.