The role of the Police Service Commission (PSC) could be expanded if recommendations made by the Strategic Sub-Committee of the Multi-Sector Review Team are implemented. Proposed changes include eliminating the Director of Personnel Administration (DPA) post, which handles selection of the Commissioner of Police (CoP) and Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and giving the PSC power to sign employment contracts of all officers under its jurisdiction, as well as terminate appointments of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and Senior Superintendent (Sen Supt). A new position of Deputy Chairman of the PSC, to be appointed by the President, is another recommendation. Members of the sub-committee include: Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, Samraj Harripaul, SC; Chief Parliamentary Counsel Ian Macintyre, SC; Director Monitoring, Evaluation and Education, Dr Kerry Sumesar-Rai; Management Consultant Aldwyn Daniel; and Legal Consultant at the Ministry of the Attorney General, Kandice Rampersad. The team delivered their report to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on June 12.
They were retained by PSC chairman Prof Ramesh Deosaran, then Minister of National Security Brig John Sandy (retired), members of the Opposition, the Office of the Attorney General and other stakeholders, following a September 24, 2011, meeting with Persad-Bissessar to consider legal, administrative and operational reforms to the PSC. The committee was also asked to review relevant constitutional sections regarding the PSC mandate, oversight functions, its relationship with the police service and other relevant agencies and make recommendations to enhance and strengthen the independence, efficiency and effectiveness of the PSC and its Secretariat. National Security Minister Jack Warner told the Sunday Guardian he had received a copy of the report and supports all the recommendations. Warner said legislative changes will need to be made but he believes they will be beneficial in the future. “I do not think that we need to be hiring firms and wasting millions of dollars in having a recruitment process,”he said. Warner said there are persons in T&T experienced and qualified enough to initiate a selection process for the CoP and DCP post.
A copy of the report obtained by Sunday Guardian details recommendations which includes widening the remit of the PSC.
Currently the PSC advises the DPA to initiate the hiring process for CoP and DCP. The DPA advertises for a firm to do the recruitments, or retains a firm to advertise and carry out the process. The firm processes the applications, conducts background checks on each candidate, screens and selects candidates for assessment, evaluates them and submits a short list for the PSC. An interview is then conducted by the PSC and candidates are short-listed based on merit. The list is then forwarded to the President who sends notification to Parliament for approval. According to the committee “the selection process has proven to be time consuming and costly in the past and the results have not been satisfactory.”
The sub-committee recommended that the PSC be given jurisdiction to select and appoint persons to the two offices, eliminating the roles currently played by the office of the DPA and the firm elected and simplify the procedure.
“This change would require repealing of the CoP and DCP (selection process) Order, 2009 and the procedure placed in the proposed Act,” the committee noted.
Recommendations were also made for additional qualifications for the posts of CoP and DCP. The CoP should “have some qualification in the fields of management, human resource and finance because of the range of his functions, (while) the DCP in charge of administration should have specific qualification in management, consistent with his area of responsibility.” At present, a candidate must have a university degree in Law, Criminal Justice, Criminology, Police Service Management, or any other relevant degree. The candidate for CoP must have no less than 15 years law enforcement experience and no less than 12 years experience is required for the DCP post. The report said the PSC has under its purview four positions—COP and three DCPs—but that number should be increased to 42 and include 11 Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACP) and 27 Senior Superintendents, with the qualification of ACP and Sen Supt mirroring that of the DCP, but with ten to eight years experience respectively.
However, the committee said the appointment process for the ACP and Sen Supt should not be subject to Parliamentary approval” and the PSC should be responsible for terminating those appointments on the same grounds applicable for the top cop and DCP posts. It was also recommended that an independent body be appointed to deal with matters and hear appeals of decisions by the CoP. The report suggest that membership of the PSC be increased from five to seven but appointments continue to remain part-time. Of concern to the committee was the process of appointing PSC members. The committee felt members should not be subject to parliamentary approval, but should be appointed by the President following consultations with the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.