Three senior prison officers have been suspended from all duties from the Port-of-Spain State Prison, Frederick Street, in relation to the July 24 jailbreak.
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Acting top cop gets another extension
Instead of griping that it’s a “toothless bulldog” the Police Service Commission (PSC) must play a greater role in ensuring a police commissioner is appointed and with haste. So said president of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association acting Insp Anand Ramesar, as for yet another time acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams has been given another six-month extension by the commission. Williams’s third extension is expected to begin on February 1 and will end on July 31. Saying the association was not surprised, Ramesar said: “We are calling on the Police Service Commission to stop holding the Police Service to ransom and to stop complaining they are toothless bulldogs and understand that the value of a functioning Police Service must be an overriding objective.”
Members of the commission met yesterday at the commission’s office, corner of Churchill-Roosevelt Highway and Pasea Main Road, Tunapuna. A release from the commission said it noted several issues which were raised with Williams during a meeting on January 9. It said there were some 2013 “achievements” of the Police Service which included a 30 per cent reduction of violent crimes, a 26 per cent reduction in serious crimes and a 23 per cent reduction in road fatalities. “The commission also noted that several positive initiatives have been implemented, such as improvement in police visibility, introduction of the inkless fingerprint system and on-going Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) training,” it said. The commission, however, again maintained Williams was tardy in submitting reports in a timely manner. It said, however, the acting police commissioner had since expressed his regret for the delays in the submission of reports requested by the commission’s secretariat. “Taking into account all the circumstances, the commission has decided to re-appoint Mr Stephen Williams, deputy commissioner of police to act as commissioner of police for a further six months,” the commission added.
It gave Williams until January 31, 2014 to submit all outstanding reports. During a press conference last week, the commission’s chairman, Prof Ramesh Deosaran, said Williams would likely receive yet another extension because of the convoluted process now used to select a commissioner. Deosaran said it was likely the country would have an acting commissioner for “a very long time” because a firm would have to be contracted yet again to screen candidates desirous of applying for the position. “There is something called Legal Notice 102 which requires the Director of Personnel Administration to advertise for a firm. “What was done is she (DPA Gloria Edwards-Joseph) has hired Nipdec. Nipdec has advertised for a firm and the firms which have applied have been found not suitable. “It means now that the DPA has to invoke a further exercise in getting a suitable firm...that is where it is now at...so that the hiring of a commissioner is way down the road,” Deosaran had said. He also said the commission was so dissatisfied with Williams’ tardiness that that could have ultimately affect his performance appraisal.
A source close to the commission said there were some areas in which Williams needed to improve, adding that he got a “generally good grade.” Ramesar, however, said the acting commissioner had continued to work well with the association in trying to meet the objectives of the service. He added: “All the hype and hullabaloo about performance measurement and assessing what the commissioner is doing, the PSC, however, has failed to impress upon the membership that they have the capacity, an understanding of policing and an appreciation of the internal challenges of the Police Service. “The repetitive complaint that the role of the PSC in the selection and recruitment of a police commissioner is restricted by legal notice is not enough,” Ramesar added. He said if the selection process had started immediately after the resignation of former police commissioner Dwayne Gibbs then the country would have had a police commissioner today.