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PSC chairman admits: Crime Plans have Failed (with CNC3 video)
Chairman of the Police Service Commission Prof Ramesh Deosaran yesterday said crime-fighting efforts had failed. Deosaran spoke at a media briefing after the commission met for an hour yesterday with acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams. Asked if the measures implemented over the past years to deal with crime had failed, Deosaran said: “The answer is yes.”
He said there were very serious concerns about the crime rate. The meeting with Williams dealt with issues such as challenges to the system of police promotion, his plan for fighting crime and his performance appraisal, he said. Deosaran said the commission also wanted to make sure Williams’ performance so far was “on board.” He said the final appraisal report should be available to the public by next month.
Williams’ acting appointment was recently extended by six months. Responding to questions on crime, Deosaran said the police should be allowed to do their work without any political influence. He said there were “gaps in the level of accountability” and the commission was committed to deal with that. “We intend to pursue that road,” he said, “regardless of the people who feel that we are too firm. Accountability requires firmness, especially in public safety and matters of security. So we are dedicated towards that.”
He said the commission was “very troubled” about the existing recruitment process for a commissioner of police and deputy commissioners. “We cannot have a serious crime rate as it is. We cannot have such escalating public fear of crime and yet the Police Service Commission is constrained in appointing a substantive police commissioner,” he said. Deosaran said such arrangements were unfair to either the acting commissioner or the public. “It is really a merry-go-round, which we have to jump off now,” he said. “It is protracted, it is expensive.”
The commission was constrained by the existing arrangements for appointing the officer, he said, but recommendations have been made to the Attorney General to change the system, and he hoped that change would be made expeditiously. Under the existing arrangements, he said, it was not impossible for foreigners to be appointed commissioner of police and deputy commissioner.
Canadian nationals Dwayne Gibbs and Jack Ewatski held the positions up to last year, but resigned before their contracts expired. “If that system remains, the answer is yes, it is possible for us to have another foreign commissioner and deputy commissioner,” Deosaran said.
Williams grilled on Flying Squad
The commission also demanded answers from the acting CoP about the alleged new Flying Squad. National Security Minister Jack Warner has repeatedly denied the existence of that unit within the Police Service. Former police inspector Mervyn Cordner told the T&T Guardian the unit had been in operation since July last year. Williams has said he knows nothing about it.
Deosaran said questions on the issue were put to Williams during the meeting at the commission’s office in Tunapuna, but did not say what the response was. He said the comments were to be studied at a meeting of the commission at the same venue yesterday. Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has called on the commission to probe the matter. The Police Complaints Authority has initiated an independent probe and has met separately with the Director of Public Prosecutions and Williams.
Deosaran said the commission felt it was necessary to inquire to determine “what the facts are and to go beyond speculation and to satisfy ourselves that all is above board and there is no illegal activity, either individually or by any unit.” He said the commission was a constitutionally-established oversight body and had to make sure such things were not happening within the Police Service.
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