Playing politics with policing

Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher - Jeff Mayers
Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher - Jeff Mayers

THE EDITOR: The Commissioner of Police has given herself a grade of "excellent." At first I didn’t think such a ludicrous statement is deserving of a comment. I would, however, like to simply state that I am not surprised for this has been the narcissistic subculture that has contaminated the police service over the last few years.

I don’t have to remind anyone that a recent former acting commissioner's own self-assessment of his performance suggests he was singing from the same hymn book and likely with the same choir.

To enlighten the public, in the police service there are groups or subcultures that are commonly known as cliques and they would align themselves with certain superior officers who would sanitise all their actions, misconduct, shortfalls or incompetences to ensure these people are always viewed in a glowing or exemplary manner, and this even extends and is most manifested in assessments for promotion.

And if an officer does not so align himself, nothing he does (no matter how commendable) will be recognised or rewarded. I have known many dedicated officers who did exemplary work and were not so recognised and others who did nothing beyond the norm but were glorified. To add clarity, I will describe a common way this is effected.

There is an awards committee in the police service that will grant monetary commendations/awards for supposedly outstanding (ie, excellent) work performed by officers in the execution of their duties.

The normal procedure is that once a member of the public or a public servant writes or publishes instances of commendable work by any officer and this is brought to the attention of the committee, its members will consider it and decide whether to grant the officer a monetary commendation/award, which is also considered for promotion.

Naturally, the more distinguished or important the recommender is in society the more likely the committee will decide in favour of granting the award.

I know of an officer who is currently an assistant commissioner of police who was granted a commendation/award for organising a bus for some children on a field trip in Tobago organised by a foreign embassy.

Now compare that to another officer who, on three occasions, was commended by different magistrates for the professional manner he conducted his investigations and how he presented his evidence in court.

A US police department also informed his supervisor in the TTPS of how impressed they were with the evidence he gave in a US federal court in relation to an extradition matter. Yet he was not granted a commendation/award.

This officer even represented the police service and the country in the sport of shooting and was then the most accomplished police shooter regionally – and even internationally. Yet he retired from the TTPS without a "thank you" card from the administration.

That said, it is very likely that the current CoP honestly believes she has performed excellently over the past 100 days because this is how she has been groomed to think, for she has first to convince herself before she can convince others, especially those who assess her suitability for office.

I will not be surprised if she is granted commendations/awards for her performance, which will only add insult to injury as the public no longer feels secure in public spaces and even within their own homes.

Well, if the crime situation in our country does not improve, the commissioner cannot be faulted, for who can reasonably expect her to improve on her excellent performance?


retired police officer


"Playing politics with policing"

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