Sunday, January 21, 2018

Time to step up, inspectors

Express editorial logo385

Mark Fraser

 With their primary agenda being a take-no-prisoners defence of lower-ranking police officers, the tag team of business-suited Police Inspectors Anand Ramesar and Michael Sealy have lately come perilously close to losing their credibility. 

The president and general secretary, respectively, of the Police Social and Welfare Association have been overplaying their hand by calling, in rapid succession, for the removal of acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams; a  boycott of the Police Child Protection Unit; the shutting down of the Police Complaints Authority; and the closure of the Rapid Response Unit. 

The first two demands are linked. Their rationale for refusing to have police officers even apply to work in the Child Protection Unit arises from the slow pace of salary negotiations and promotions within the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, for which they blame Ag. CoP Williams. According to Inspector Ramesar, the issue of promotions is in limbo and therefore police officers should not work in a unit “to perform in different skills and demonstrate different knowledge bases for which they are not being compensated.”

He did not explain, however, his method for calculating proper compensation for the duties such officers would be called on to perform, nor in what ways those duties would be significantly different from normal police work.

In similar fashion, the recently promoted Inspector called for the PCA to be shut down because an Opposition Senator got his hands on a confidential police report. But, as PCA chairman Gillian Lucky noted, Inspector Ramesar had made a “finding of fact without any evidence to support his allegations”.

 His call for the shutdown of the RRU, in turn, raised an important point about the training of SRPs, but his premise appears specious  – to wit, that the killing of 21-year-old Naim Dean was caused by inadequate training. Since police officers kill civilians at an average rate of two per month in T&T, however, Inspector Ramesar’s conclusion can only have merit if most of these killings are also at the hands of the RRU officers.

Now it is perhaps possible that the two newly promoted Inspectors have answers to all the problems of policing operations and management which have confounded more seasoned officers, expert consultants, and other law enforcement professionals. If this is so, they should advance their own progressive programme for endorsement. This would benefit the country and the rank-and-file officers on whose behalf they so loudly speak. 

In the absence of claiming such know-it-all credentials, however, Inspectors Ramesar and Sealy run the risk of appearing to be a headline-hungry official opposition to the TTPS leadership, with their main agenda being, not the improvement of the performance of the service, but self-promotion.