Probe deeper, wider
It is fully in order for the prime minister as chairperson of the National Security Council to ask the Acting Police Commissioner for a report on Mervyn Cordner's New Flying Squad initiative. The existence of a quasi-police unit that involves itself in police business without legal authority of any kind demands urgent investigation and action. As head of the NSC, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar is within her right to ask fellow council member, Acting CoP Stephen Williams, to investigate the matter.
We therefore urge Mr Williams to tackle this assignment with expertise and dispatch.
However, the existence of this unit also requires another investigation into the operation of Cordner's unit, which will not be appropriate for ag CoP Williams to conduct.
In the interest of the nation's security, we need to know the precise lapses that allowed Cordner's entity to function over the course of several months, if only to ensure that it never happens again.
Such an investigation must of necessity be conducted by an independent individual or team which is not an interested party in this matter. The mandate of this investigation should be to determine what lapses or wrongdoings, if any, were committed by any agency, office or individual within the national security apparatus. This would include the National Security Council and its members, the Ministry of National Security and its officers including the minister, and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service including acting Commissioner Williams.
We note that the Police Complaints Authority has already initiated an investigation into the aborted New Flying Squad. We hope that the findings of this probe will be made available to the public. Additionally, we see a role here for the Police Service Commission which assesses the performance of the Acting CoP in the context of ensuring the effective management of the TTPS.
Ag CoP Williams was off the block early in distancing himself from the New Flying Squad (NFS), saying that he did not respond to Mervyn Cordner's many requests for meetings. Mr Cordner, on the other hand, has said his team helped to solve a number of major crimes and has even gone into detail about some of them.
Does this mean that the members of Cordner's unit were involved in an exchange of information with police officers? In distancing himself, therefore, is the public to conclude that the ag CoP was innocent or absent? Was he out of touch with critical matters occurring within the police service, or did he know and choose to adopt a hands-off policy?
In assessing the Ag CoP's performance and holding him accountable for its efficient operation, the Police Service Commission should take a keen interest in determining the facts of this matter through an investigation of its own.
The state of affairs that led us to this situation must never be allowed to occur again.