Ag Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith. picture NICOLE DRAYTON

Gary Griffith’s term as Commissioner of Police (CoP) is coming to an end on Wednesday. Interviews to fill the post have been ongoing as Griffith’s three-year term ends in a few days. Guardian Media has learned that Griffith was among seven people interviewed for the post.

After an evaluation four names were shortlisted. The first three names on the nomination list will be submitted.

Once the process is completed, the Police Service Commission (PSC) will send the recommendations to President Paula-Mae Weekes.

However, former chairman of the PSC and criminologist Professor Ramesh Deosaran said with respect to the PSC, there needs to be a “bit more transparency” at this “extraordinary time” without affecting due process.

Speaking about the steps taken so far, he said there was a lack of transparency.

“That seems to be on the wayside. The public should know that the Commission would inform the public of how far they have reached. They should issue a proper release as to how far they have reached and how far they have to go. This is a very serious matter and the public has the right to know, rather than having these grey areas and speculations.

“We need to know how many people have been interviewed, what is the next step in the interview process, how soon will we hear that someone has will be acting or whatever. There must be certainty in the process. An updated report is needed now.”

He questioned whether the Government has invested enough resources to conduct the recruitment and evaluation efficiently.

“With the Government having decided to remove the last firm (KPMG was used in the last recruitment process in 2017), we want to know if the PSC hired a local firm and if there is enough money to do so? Is the support enough to have a proper and reliable outcome in terms of an appointment? Is the PSC doing the interviews by themselves? Do they have external support?” he asked.

He said the structure of the PSC and the recruitment process need an “urgent review.”

“We can’t continue so. The delays are too protracted. The position is a very important one, both Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner. You need a very reliable monitoring evaluation and screening procedures which I do not think the PSC is equipped to fill those requirements.

“If you look at the stipulated requirements in the advertisement for the post. It requires management skills, good communication, it requires team building, and so on. Those things call for extensive surveying, face-to-face interviews and a kind of methodology that is expensive.”

He said the last three years have been a “rock and roll” ride where things went “up and down” in the T&T Police Service (TTPS) and the organisation needs to be stabilised from the leadership and the lower rungs.

He also said the issue of who will be the next CoP was “one of national security” and the need for security is paramount.

Deosaran said the powers of the CoP need to be reviewed.

“With all these powers we have not seen any significant improvement to justify the extensive powers that he has.”

Speaking about the constitutional amendments in 2006/2007 which were meant to remove political interference in the recruitment process, Deosaran said the opposite has happened now.

He said a major motive for the constitutional amendments to the PSC and Commissioner of Police appointment (No 6 of 2006, Section 123) was the objection of the veto which the then Prime Minister had over the appointment of the Commissioner of Police as submitted by the then PSC.

“That is to avoid ‘political interference’ in the Commissioner of Police appointment. But what do we have today? Just a roundabout way of political intervention. That is, the Prime Minister and Cabinet have the veto by a majority in Parliament. How long will it take us to see that the Commissioner of Police is still politically appointed, and constitutionally so?

“The constitutional changes spelt out that the recommendations of the PSC go to the President, the President then sends recommendations that the PSC makes to the Parliament, then the Cabinet makes the final selection. It is not the Commission that makes the selection, it is the Parliament and the Prime Minister with the final word. In effect, they have a veto over what the PSC does. This is the contradiction we need to rectify now.”