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PNM senator: Jack can’t reopen police stations
Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs is in full control of the Police Service and therefore National Security Minister Jack Warner cannot insist that the top cop reopen police stations. This was the view expressed yesterday by Opposition Senator Faris Al-Rawi.
Al-Rawi said, however, if there was a specific policy, set by the head of the National Security Council, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, or the Cabinet, that the 21st-century initiative must be scrapped or stations must be reopened, then Gibbs must follow Warner’s instructions as handed down from the Prime Minister or Cabinet.
“In this regard, Gibbs, therefore, would then be carrying out the specific directive of the Government, via Mr Warner, who has general control of the Police Service according to the Constitution,” Al-Rawi added. Warner has publicly criticised the 21st-century initiative, saying he was not in support of many of its factors, and was also most critical of the closure of stations, including the Carenage and Four Roads stations.
The initiative was launched in the Western Division in April 2011 and then implemented in the Central and Tobago Divisions. Stations in those areas are closed from 6 pm. “Until the Government states with clarity its policy to reject the 21st-century plan, then the national security minister cannot tell Police Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs to reopen any police station,” Al-Rawi added.
In examining Section 123 A of the Constitution, the PNM senator said it provided the police commissioner with control of the Police Service, and the national security minister could only mandate the commissioner to carry out certain instructions if government policy was set. And this policy, Al-Rawi added, must then be spelled out by Warner.
“But we are yet to see the national security minister do this. Therefore, both Mr Warner and Mr Gibbs are at polar ends, and that cannot be a healthy relationship,” Al-Rawi added. He said all Warner had articulated thus far were his “likes and dislikes” on a number of issues, and the national security minister has not openly told the country whether it was government policy to do away with the 21st-century project.
“We have not been told whether it is Government’s intention to reject the plan which was publicly pronounced and promoted by the police commissioner, and therefore the country now finds itself in very unusual circumstances,” Al-Rawi added. Calling on the Prime Minister to set a clear policy directive, Al-Rawi said it would be unfair to taxpayers to continue to throw their “good money behind something bad.”
“This factor stands out quite starkly, and the Government must come to a decision whether they want to continue with the plan or get rid of it.” His sentiments were echoed by senior attorney Rajiv Persad and criminologist Randy Seepersad of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine.
A 2006 amendment to the Constitution granted the police commissioner complete power over the Police Service, while the national security minister can only exercise general powers. But Seepersad said while Gibbs could exercise the authority to override Warner, the reopening of police stations was a key crime-fighting factor. “The commissioner is the head of the Police Service and the Constitution gives him absolute power,” Seepersad added.
Initiative working well—Ewatski
Deputy Police Commissioner Jack Ewatski, under whose purview the initiative was launched, said yesterday he was satisfied with the initiative. However, Ewatski said he was willing to examine areas that needed to be tweaked. “I am pleased with the results of the initiative...We are going to continue to make adjustments where they need to be made,” he said.
“The initiative is meeting the objective regarding greater police visibility and better service to the citizens.” Ewatski did not specify whether the changes would include reopening stations.
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