part of review team: Prof Ramesh Deosaran

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PSC seeks power to recruit next CoP

By Irene Medina

With three weeks to go before the term of office ends for acting Commissioner of Police (CoP) Stephen Williams, the Cabinet is being asked to accept a recommendation to allow the Police Service Commission (PSC) the power to recruit the next commissioner of police.

While there is no doubt that Williams' temporary appointment will be extended—at least in the short term—the Sunday Express has learned that 37 recommendations outlined in a "Report of the Multi-Sector Review Team on the Police Service Commission", dated December 10, 2012, are currently before the Cabinet.

If the Cabinet accepts the recommendation pertaining to the recruitment process, this will effectively bring an end to the expensive process of appointing a CoP and three deputies, which cost the country more than $5 million two years ago with the appointment of Canadians Dwayne Gibbs and Jack Ewatski as commissioner and deputy commissioner, respectively.

The three deputies whose terms also end on January 31 are Mervyn Richardson, Raymond Craig and Simon Alexis.

In September 2011, a team was appointed by the Government to review the legislative and administrative framework of the Commission.

It comprised Attorney General Anand Ramlogan SC, Minister of Public Administration Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, Minister of National Security Jack Warner, chairman of the Law Reform Commission Samraj Harripaul SC, Chief Parliamentary Counsel Ian MacIntyre, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Administration Gillian MacIntyre, president of the Police Social and Welfare Association Sgt Anand Ramesar, legal consultant Kandice Rampersad, human resources expert Aldwyn Daniel, Kerry Sumesar Rai and PSC chairman Prof Ramesh Deosaran.

The report also proposes a separate appeals tribunal to hear appeals from police officers who are aggrieved by decisions made by the commissioner or his delegated authority.

Recently, Police Social and Welfare Association president Ramesar complained in a letter to Deosaran about a number of matters before the Appeal Board, which have been awaiting decisions for several months and, in some instances, for over a year.

He said, "The association views (this) as unacceptable."

Ramesar also pointed out there were over 300 police officers who had promotion matters pending, a situation that was impacting adversely on morale in the Police Service,

He said if accepted, the recommendation could see an end to the backlog of matters and their disaffection.

It was learnt that the PSC, through three of its members, Addison Khan, Martin George and Kenneth Parker, hears such appeals.

The other two members of the PSC are Deosaran and Jacqueline Cheeseman.

The review team has also recommended to the Cabinet that "the appellate function should now be removed and given to an independent, constitutional appellate body" for speedier and more efficient hearings.

According to the recommendation, this team will be chaired by an experienced attorney-at-law and appointed by the President after consultation with the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and the PSC chairman.

As it relates to legislative changes, the review team is recommending changes to several sections of the Constitution to widen the remit of the PSC and the Police Service Act.

As currently obtains, the search for a commissioner and deputy commissioner is activated on the advice of the PSC to the Director of Personnel Administration (DPA) to initiate the process.

The DPA advertises for a firm to conduct the recruitment process or retains a firm to advertise and conduct the recruitment process, and it then manages the advertisement for the positions to be filled, processes the applications and conducts background checks on candidates.

The firm also evaluates the candidates and submits a short list to the PSC, which in turn conducts the interviews and creates its own merit list before submitting it to the President.

It is the President who then sends a notification to Parliament for approval.

The Cabinet's acceptance of the recommendation to widen the PSC's remit to manage the recruitment process means the role of the DPA would be eliminated, and the PSC would be responsible for advertising, short-listing the candidates and forwarding to the President.

About three weeks ago, at a media conference in Port of Spain, Deosaran described the recruitment process as a "tangled web" and explained the complications in a permanent appointment of the commissioner.

When asked if this meant that acting Commissioner Williams will have be to reappointed when his appointment ends on January 31, 2013, Deosaran said: "The inference is clear" because of the convoluted process.

Other recommendations include the presidential appointment of PSC members, following consultation with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, and not parliamentary approval as currently obtains.

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