PSC starts search for top cop. Again.

Acting CoP McDonald Jacob - JEFF K MAYERS
Acting CoP McDonald Jacob - JEFF K MAYERS

EVERYONE seemed happy that the new Police Service Commission (PSC) has begun the work of selecting a new Commissioner of Police under the chairmanship of retired judge Judith Jones.

The new commission has dumped the contested previous merit list of candidates and will begin its work anew.

Acting CoP McDonald Jacob declared himself "happy to know the PSC is now in place and are carrying out their affairs."

Former CoP Gary Griffith called for transformation in the country generally and in the process of selecting police leadership specifically. Mr Griffith's concerns about laws being crafted "to suit absolute political agendas" is noted and should be part of the contemplations of the new PSC.

A court ruling in October 2021 clarified that the proper method of appointing senior police leadership had not been followed – and that it must be.

As a result, the Attorney General must table a new legal order mandating the PSC to submit an order of merit list for both acting and permanent CoP and Deputy CoP appointments to the President, who in turn must send it to the House of Representatives for approval.

The challenges of finding, vetting and appointing a CoP have been a consistent problem for the PSC, leading to two decades’ worth of expensive efforts to appoint police commissioners that ended in shambles and expenses running into millions of dollars – without delivering a process that holds up to public scrutiny.

One particularly humiliating consequence of this fragile process was the tenure of Stephen Williams, who with admirable fortitude acted as CoP in 13 temporary appointments over his six years in the role. Before he retired, Mr Williams was being offered, and accepted, terms of service of just three months.

But he isn't the person who should be embarrassed by that history. Mr Williams was asked to serve and showed up for the job, retiring as the longest-serving officer in the role since Jules Bernard retired in 1996.

Can that be said of the successive politicians and appointed members of the PSC who allowed this inadequate cascade of failed recruitment procedures to continue across two decades of a new century?

A process that begins with an assessment of suitable candidates, review by the PSC, the creation of a merit list and scrutiny by the assembled House of Representatives of candidate dossiers shouldn't be so muddled that it leads to the demolition of the PSC and the collapse of the entire process.

In this, our elected representatives and the appointed commissioners have repeatedly failed the nation. The new commission must do better.

In the face of a level of crime worrying even to a nation bedevilled by casual violence, it is essential that there should be stability and security in the top echelons of the frontline law-enforcement agency. A satisfactory and reliable method of appointing these officers must be adopted and scrupulously followed.


"PSC starts search for top cop. Again."

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