Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Leadership — biggest police problem

I have heard too many times that there are many competent persons in Trinidad and Tobago to lead the Police Service but I wish to make a case that there arenít. For all the doctorates and varieties of certificates and diplomas members of this Police Service have, I wonder if there is anyone with experience in leadership. I donít mean leading a station, a branch of some administrative unit since that would just be management, but I mean leadership and I am calling all the members of the Police Service, is there any one of you with leadership experience? Have any of you led a police or law enforcement organisation? Iím sure the answer is a resounding ďNoĒ with bowed heads.

The previous commissioner tried to transform the service by establishing agencies such as the Professional Standards Bureau, Financial Investigation Branch and a Counter-Trafficking Unit. Attempts were made to develop a code of ethics, obtain accreditation for the Police Academy, implement holistic initiatives that addressed management and deployment of resources, reduce crime, increase detection and improve investigations by establishing case-management procedures. These plans excited the public and energised the service members, with the exception of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association and a few senior officers.

The new way of doing things was intended to maximise policing resources and improve service delivery and accountability by holding the entire rank and arms of the service answerable. There was no need for new vehicles, especially when it is a well-known fact that many officers carry home police vehicles (despite getting car and commuting allowances). There was no need for more officers, especially when the ratio of police to population in this country is higher than any other in the world. But the rest of the service did not want to work or be held accountable. What you have now is a proliferation of resources and the very same low detection rates. There appears to be a lack of strategic planning in the service. The police website shows no plans and targets.

What I have seen from the acting Commissioner is merely tactics, not strategies.

Besides all these shortcomings you have the Police Service Commission giving renewal after renewal to this acting Commissioner. And though the PSCís hands may be tied when it comes to appointing a confirmed person in the rank, they are surely not incapable of appointing a competent person to act. Rather, they have used the tradition (or excuse) of seniority to reward an acting Commissioner who has failed time after time and rather than complaining about the poor leadership and failed management, they complain about his submitting statistics.

For all the pomp and pageantry the PSC is involved in there is no evidence on their website that they are looking at management of resources. What good is it to look at crime reduction if you are not looking at whether the recorded crime is declining because of under-reporting?

What good does it do to look at the number of persons trained and not the value or impact of training? Why would you set a target for the police to achieve financial compliance if they are not spending with efficiency?

Finally, are you doing any analysis to ascertain whether the compressed training of police and Special Reserve Police officers is responsible for the increase in police killings and use of force incidents?

Come on TTPS and PSC, the country needs you to stop the pageantry and put the people first.

RT Nicholls