Last update: 23-Jul-2014 6:13 pm
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Nizam: Griffith has no power to fire rogue cops
National Security Minister Gary Griffith does not have the power to fire or hire any police officers, whether “rogue” or not. In fact, the power to fire, hire or promote a police officer never lay with any national security minister. That power resides with the commissioner of police and previously with the Police Service Commission (PSC). “Perhaps the Minister of National Security could tell us who gave him the power to fire rogue police officers,” said former chairman of the PSC Nizam Mohammed during an interview yesterday.
In yesterday’s Guardian, Griffith was quoted as saying he intended to transform national security structure and fire rogue police officers. “We seem to be going around in circles,” Mohammed said. “Why haven’t they discussed in a meaningful way one of the problems which the parliamentarians pushed me into acknowledging at a Joint Select Committee, and that is, the lack of morale in the Police Service?” He said politicians had instead initiated a mob reaction to the myriad of problems faced by the Police Service.
“The Police Service is not overburdened with rogue cops,” he said. Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal also said yesterday according to the Constitution, Griffith had no authority to fire any officers. “The commissioner of police has complete power to manage the Police Service and he would have the power to fire officers,” she said. “Before that, it was the responsibility of the PSC.”
She said as it stood, the PSC had powers to monitor the efficiency of the commissioner of police and also held an appellate function in the event of an officer deciding to appeal disciplinary action. “The minister’s power deals with policy and the legislation,” Seetahal said. According to Section 123 A of the Constitution, the commissioner of police “shall have the power to appoint persons to hold or act in office in the Police Service,” including the power to make appointments or promotions and to confirm appointments.
The act also says the commissioner has the power to transfer any police officer and remove from office and exercise disciplinary control over police officers. Yesterday, head of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) Gillian Lucky told the Guardian she was expecting to meet with Griffith some time next week. She said during this meeting Griffith’s statement would be discussed, in addition to legislation to give teeth to the PCA.