The Police Complaints Authority and the Police Service Commission can each do their own respective examinations on the alleged front-burner issues involving the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.
According to authorities, each examination is different, as the PSC will be using the findings of its probe to determine how it impacts appointments, while the PCA probe can lead to charges being laid if necessary.
On Saturday, the PCA announced it had independently commenced an investigation regarding reports of the practices surrounding the issuance of firearm user licences (FULs) by TTPS members.
The PCA’s announcement is the latest of several examinations—directly and indirectly—involving the FUL issue.
This, following media reports of a “racket” allegedly involving senior officers, SRPs and others. The published reports also alleged that “big money” was being paid to access FULs. Two officers were recently arrested and charged for allegedly accepting money to expedite the FUL process.
In the last quarter of 2020, an independent team of former security heads had submitted an intelligence brief on the FUL issue to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. He heads the National Security Council.
The PSC has been, since June 17, in the process of selecting a Commissioner of Police. The contract of incumbent CoP Gary Griffith ended on August 17 and he has been acting in the post since then.
The PSC had finalised a shortlist of seven nominees which was sent to President Paula-Mae Weekes before that date. But the PSC later hired legal luminary Stanley John, who comes with decades of experience, to examine issues on information received, sources said.
After word of the PCA’s probe started making the rounds over the weekend, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said the PCA has the legal authority and independence to do a probe. But he felt the probe reportedly mandated by the PSC was “a duplication and waste of resources.” He also questioned if the man hired to conduct the PSC’s probe “could undertake a lawful investigation into the conduct of police officers.”
Moonilal called on the Prime Minister to indicate the terms of reference of the inquiry.
Yesterday, authorities confirmed that both the PSC and PCA investigations can be done, but indicated the PCA, under the law, has the power to probe corruption, serious misconduct and criminal offences regarding police.
On the PSC issue, however, they said John’s mandate was to check the facts on the PSC’s behalf to inform their work.
They said when the findings are completed, the PSC will look at the situation in terms of appointment, monitoring and discipline regarding the offices of the Commissioner and deputy Commissioner.
Sources said last Thursday, the PSC was expected to factor John’s findings into its security vetting consideration in the selection process. Security vetting is among the major aspects of selecting a Commissioner. Some vetting is done by the Strategic Services Agency also.
Guardian Media confirmed John’s report might arrive in a month’s time.
Meanwhile, a timeline for the completion of the PCA’s probe couldn’t be given yesterday.
Guardian Media was told the pace of the investigation would depend on records, availability of witnesses and other factors. However, it was noted the the PCA has the power, within the law, to obtain records and documents it is seeking to assist in its probe.