Yet another snag in the selection of a Commissioner of Police yesterday after an applicant for the post acting Senior Superintendent of Police Anand Ramesar secured an injunction halting the Police Service Commission (PSC) from completing its recruitment.
This is the latest twist in a selection that has unfortunately been mired in controversy and public intrigue.
The government brought constitutional amendments to the Parliament, which were meant to streamline the process with the requirements for a recruitment firm to be hired to short-list candidates and international advertisement of the position being removed.
But the Opposition Leader claimed that the new procedure reeked of political interference and seemed to be an attempt to ensure that Commissioner Gary Griffith would not be selected for a second term.
The Opposition sought to annul the Commissioner of Police (CoP) and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) (Selection Process) Order, 2021 in the Senate without success.
On the heels of this, there was some disquiet about the level of transparency by the PSC and the perceived tardiness in which the entire process commenced.
The advertised deadline for the post of Commissioner was July 20, 2021.
As the recruitment wheels turned, Griffith’s tenure at the helm of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service expired on August 17 and he was quietly appointed to act with no notice from the PSC to the public.
Much to the chagrin of the public, Griffith was allowed to proceed on leave and deputy Commissioner McDonald Jacob was assigned to act. Still, there was a deafening silence from the PSC.
These latest turn of events have placed the selection of a Commissioner of Police in a position of chaos that this country believed it had emerged from and was firmly planted in the past after the initial selection of Griffith.
Since the departure of former Commissioner Trevor Paul in 2007, the selection of a top CoP has become a contentious issue with a slew of senior police and law enforcement officials leading the TTPS. Prior to Griffith, Stephen Williams acted as Commissioner for almost a decade.
This in effect robbed the service of stability and no doubt would have impacted its ability to effectively deal with crime and gang activity over the years.
It may be the prerogative of PSC chairwoman Bliss Seepersad and her panel to shy away from media attention and limelight, but in an era where the population demands accountability and transparency, the PSC can ill afford to carry out its operations with such a thick cloak of secrecy.
While the concerns of acting Snr Supt Ramesar will be fully ventilated and adjudicated in court, the Commission should take a step back and assess the entire course of events of the last few months and ask its self, whether it has been effective in carrying out its mandate and its biggest task of selecting a Commissioner of Police, so urgently required to ensure the safety and security of the country.
The PSC’s handling of the selection of a top cop has left much to be desired. Griffith was appointed to act when his substantive appointment came to its natural conclusion three years after he took office. Griffith as acting top cop was then given the clearance to proceed on leave, McDonald Jacob was appointed to act in his absence and yet the silence on the PSC on these latest moves has been deafening.
The PSC reports to the president. It is only Madame President who can intervene and tell the Commission privately to awake from its slumber and let the country know that it has the people’s interest at heart especially given the frightening spate of killings taking place.