Thursday, December 14, 2017

Deosaran: We can hire a CoP in 6 months


NEW BASE: PSC chairman Prof Ramesh Deosaran, centre, gives a ‘thumbs up’ following the ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the commission’s new office at the corner of Pasea Road and Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, Tunapuna, yesterday. Flanking him are Senate president Timothy Hamel-Smith, second from right, and Anthony Samuel, left, assistant director. Looking on from right are Dr Kerry Sumesar-Rai and Ingrid Seerattan, acting deputy director. —Photo: STEPHEN DOOBAY

Mark Fraser

If given the mandate, the Police Service Commission (PSC) can appoint a permanent Commissioner of Police (CoP) in six months for under $2 million, says PSC chairman Ramesh Deosaran.

Deosaran said it was frustrating to the Commission, the public and the Police Service that 18 months have passed since former police commissioner Dwayne Gibbs and deputy Jack Ewatski have resigned but to date there has been no progress in their replacements.

He was speaking to the media following the opening of a PSC office at the corner of Pasea Main Road and Churchill-Roosevelt Highway in Tunapuna yesterday.

Deosaran said the Director of Personnel Administration (DPA) has to hire a firm which will then invite applications and short-list persons before the PSC makes recommendations to the President who then sends the potential candidates to the Parliament for approval.

The process, said Deosaran, is long and unnecessary and as it stands now the DPA has not hired a firm and has engaged the services of the National Insurance Property Development Co Ltd (Nipdec) to advertise for a firm.

“The PSC comes into the process way down the line...we want to change that. It’s over 18 months now and no Commissioner of Police has been appointed,” said Deosaran.

He said it was time to “do away” with the current process of appointing a CoP and leave it in the hands of the PSC.

Deosaran said he chaired a multi-sectoral review team which compiled a report and made recommendations to the Government to expedite the process and allow the PSC to handle the recruitment.

Cabinet, he said, accepted these recommendations in March last year and the Opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) had also signalled its support.

He said it was ironic that even after both sides supported the recommendations there is still no move to change the process.

“The irony is what is the keepback. We know the Attorney General is trying to get it through but we hope it will be done a little more quickly,” he said.

“You cannot have a Police Service which is a key institution for public safety and national security with all these serious challenges coming along the way with such a shaky executive situation,” said Deosaran.

The PSC, he said, will get down to business right away if given the mandate to hire a top cop and will select a person based on the set criteria. 

He said it cost some $4 million to hire the last CoP and the PSC can do the same job for less than half of this cost.

The Commission, he said, continues its work and was closely looking at how police was handling certain cases such as the robbery at Republic Bank’s Sangre Grande branch, the robbery of a Sentinel security van where more than $17 million was taken and the US$100 million drug bust in the US.

Speaking to the Express by phone yesterday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said there were many good recommendations from the multi-sectoral committee.

“We are waiting on draft regulations to give effect to some of the recommendations made on the issue of the appointment of a Commissioner of Police,” he said.

The issue, he said, was a matter of discussions between the Government and Opposition in their crime talks last year and the question was raised as to whether Parliamentary oversight should be retained in the selection process or revert to the use of a constitutional veto.