The current procedure for the selection and appointment of a Commissioner of Police could not have been more complex, costly and convoluted.
According to Section 123 of the Constitution (as amended) the power to appoint a Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner is vested in the Police Service Commission (PSC) but this power is subject to limitations.
In making appointments to these offices the PSC is required to nominate persons for the respective offices in accordance with the criteria and procedure prescribed by the Order of the President and then submit the names to him.
On receipt of the nominations the President is required to issue a Notification in respect of candidates to the House of Representatives which Notification shall be subject to an affirmative resolution of the House.
However, since the political party with a majority controls the House, the appointments would clearly be political and the PSC used simply as an instrument for rubberstamping the appointments. This procedure, however, militates against the independence and political neutrality of the police.
When the services of the Penn State University in the US were retained to select suitable candidates for appointments to offices of the CoP (Gibbs) and Deputy CoP (Ewatski), it was a body which was far removed from Trinidad and Tobago and which had no knowledge of or exposure to the culture, tradition or psyche of the people. That body, however, was nevertheless entrusted with the selection of candidates for appointment to the two offices, the cost of which was not only astronomical but the appointments were catastrophic.
We are now on the threshold of considering the appointment of another CoP and Deputy CoP and it is not clear whether the President by Order would follow the procedure hitherto prescribed or some other process for nominating the officers.
Further, appointments to the offices of CoP and Deputy CoP should be made from within the ranks of the Police Service. The recruitment of two non-nationals to the two offices was not only an affront to the dignity of our sovereignty and 50 years of Independence but a revelation of the neglect and gross incompetence on the part of successive governments to observe and implement the basic principles of career management and succession planning which are fundamental to good and efficient management and governance.
But that is not all. It has been empirically established that good management requires a fair and proper performance appraisal system of an officer's performance with feedback and an opportunity to address shortcomings and deficiencies in order to qualify for upward mobility.
Further, the determination of the performance and suitability of an officer for an appointment to a higher office should not be measured and evaluated by foreigners or the opinions of committees, interviewers or promotion boards or appraisers from outside the Service, who are strangers to an officer's potentials and attributes, but by those who have the immediate supervision and control of the officer. It is well established that since interviewers do not agree in their assessment of candidates how could they make accurate predictions of future performance.
The Acting Commissioner of Police has been appointed to act for a period of six months and the question that arises for consideration is whether there is an ongoing evaluation process by the PSC to determine his efficiency, competence and fitness to continue so to act or whether his acting appointment should be terminated for incompetence.
On the other hand if he were permitted to act because of his competence should he then not be considered fit for an appointment as CoP or would he have to be submitted to abstract evaluations mechanisms to determine his suitability for the appointment.
If this be so then the PSC would simply be a cog in the wheel in the process and would be of no value or significance. In these circumstances should there be any wonder why there is now monumental frustrations among police officers?