Attorney General Anand Ramlogan has given acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams a failing grade for his performance in tackling murder and gang-related activities. He was speaking to the media yesterday after signing the condolence book for late Queen’s Counsel Karl Hudson-Phillips at Hudson-Phillips’s chambers, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain. However, the AG commended Williams and his officers for doing “remarkably well” in decreasing serious crimes.
He said: “The statistics do in fact show that acting commissioner Stephen Williams and the Police Service have performed remarkably well on the question of serious crimes. “They have failed on the question of the murder rate and gang-related violence and that is where the challenge lies. For that, I think that is where there is room for improvement, dramatically so.”
Saying he was “terribly disappointed” over the enforcement of law with respect to gangs, Raamlogan mandated the Gang Suppression Unit (Criminal Gang Intelligence Unit) of the Police Service to “get its act together to target the gang leaders and the gang members,” saying this remained a “sore point with the population.”
On the issue of appointing a police commissioner, the AG described that as a “red herring,” insisting someone will be forced to perform to the maximum if left in an acting position, since if that person did not meet the grade, someone else would be placed at the helm. Ramlogan also dismissed the argument that if a substantive police commissioner was appointed that would have a positive effect on tackling crime.
He said: “People keep saying that this has something to do in the fight against crime. I think it is a complete red herring, as a society, for us to be going down that road and accept and swallow in a wholesale manner that you have an acting commissioner of police so that is something bad in the fight against crime. “I am not so certain the logic in that is one that is reasonable. I am in fact not an advocate at all of having the commissioner of police appointed on a permanent basis in the first instance.
“If they appoint someone on a permanent basis and the man eh performing and in six months the murder rate doubles, what yuh go do?” Ramlogan questioned. He said when someone was acting the performance would also be reviewed from time-to-time. He added: “One would expect they would want to give their very best so that they can get the job. You are acting and you want to give it your all... go beyond the call of duty and you will be judged by that.
“You will then be able to get the best out of that person because they will want to relieve themselves of the acting status and prove they are the best man for the job. “So if you make the man permanent, when he sleeps and gets up, a crime plan does appear underneath he pillow? It is completely illogical and irrational,” Ramlogan argued.
He said it was interesting the PNM would be calling for a police commissioner to be appointed when under its rule people were acting in several important positions, including those of solicitor general and director of public prosecutions. “There was also no Integrity Commission, no Firearms Appeal Board, no Chief Parliamentary Counsel and no Police Complaints Authority. That was their track record,” Ramlogan added.