While criminologist Professor Ramesh Deosaran says the public should be more involved in the overall governance process, his Police Service Workforce Check Committee (MAC) categorically rejected yesterday the idea that a civilian becomes one day police commissioner.
The committee was invited to give its opinion on improving the management and oversight of the police service (TTPS) by a Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security chaired by Laventille MP West Fitzgerald Hinds at the Parliament tower, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain. The current shortlist for the Police Commissioner includes former National Security Minister Gary Griffith, who owns a security company but is not a police officer. JSC member and Minister of Public Services Robert Le Hunte said pilots rarely run airlines.
MAC member Dr Levis Guy-Obiakor, international security consultant, replied: “We have looked at this. You can be a manager but you need support. You will not get grassroots support with an outside individual.
MAC member lawyer Allan Meiguel agreed, saying TTPS still has its traditional quasi-military culture, adding: “Maybe that’s what keeps it afloat right now.”
MAC ACP member Harold Phillip said: “Internationally, appointments from outside the police service have not been successful.
Deosaran called for the Police Services Commission (PSC), which oversees the appointment of a commissioner and deputy commissioner, to become a full-time body expanded from five to seven members and disconnected from the director of administration of the staff (DPA), or be replaced by a Police Control Commission supplemented by a police inspection at the field level.
He also defended the MAC’s proposal for the public to elect a CoP. “This creates a greater obligation for the CoP to respond to community concerns, a direct form of accountability. The Hunte denounced the creation of new structures to solve a simple problem like that of a civil servant who does not do his job.
Deosaran wondered how the wheels of TTPS were still turning given low public confidence in the police. Guy-Obiakor said lack of confidence in the police is noticeable in Tobago, where shipments of marijuana and Venezuelans enter illegally, but residents are afraid to testify in court.
Deosaran said the TTPS Human Resources Unit is “in disarray,” prompting independent JSC Senator Paul Richards to ask how the CoP could work.