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Debate to approve PSC member

Saturday, May 17, 2014

While Government supports the nomination of Prof Ramesh Deosaran to the Police Service Commission (PSC), Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley, airing concerns about the service and the crime situation, says he cannot support the status quo. “If the reported drop in the crime detection rate and similar statistics is true, then the people responsible for the Police Service ought not to be getting automatic reappointment—what’s the basis for the reappointment?” Rowley asked.



Rowley detailed his concerns at yesterday’s Parliament debate on a motion to approve the President Anthony Carmona’s nomination of Deosaran as a PSC member. Deosaran formerly headed the PSC, but his term ended on April 11. Rowley spoke after House leader Dr Roodal Moonilal outlined Deosaran’s lengthy qualifications and praised his previous input.


Moonilal said a Cabinet sub-committee was examining recommendations to widen the PSC’s remit, including a new framework for selection of a Police Commissioner, deputy CoP and assistant commissioner, was expected to be resolved soon. Rowley said he wasn’t questioning Deosaran’s qualifications and these weren’t the issue. He also acknowledged the PNM had supported Deosaran’s nomination to the PSC in 2011.

“But since then a lot of water has flowed under the bridge,” Rowley added. Noting the PSC sits at the pinnacle of the structure of management of the police service, which secures the population, Rowley said in the area of securing the State and the work of the police.
“The job is not being done—you must come to that conclusion if you live in T&T. 


“I’ve lived in T&T for a fairly long time...and I have never been more insecure within our borders, and if that is the situation in T&T, then clearly we cannot be heaping self-praise on ourselves about a wonderful job by the police service or the PSC, as the assignment for the PSC and the police service is to secure the people of T&T, and that isn’t being done.”


He added, “When we have assassinations like Dana Seetahal’s attracting nationwide attention, the word ‘impunity’ goes centre stage and these crimes are committed with impunity.” 



Noting the President, in addressing Parliament last year, had alluded to not wanting to recycle “plastic bottles,” Rowley said he was therefore a little surprised at the situation. Saying the PNM was being expected to support the nomination because it did so in 2011, he said he had already conditioned his mind not to recycle “plastic bottles” and had expected some “brilliant new people with some kind of ideas.” 


Rowley said he would have been impressed by the PSC if it had told Government the current arrangements weren’t working and were preventing proper appointment of a Police Commissioner. “I’d have been impressed and supported it, but I’m not supporting the status quo in this situation. It’s too serious, too dangerous and too ineffective. I’m not supporting it.” He said no company board would be reappointed if the out-turn were as bad as it is with the police service.


Rowley said one couldn’t expect police to be at their best if they believed the management was at its worst. He said police service morale was too low, but could be raised by giving them good management. “Men and women under arms have to have morale and you don’t get it by talking nonsense at the top and dodging responsibility.” 


He said he’d learned a lot of the burden of policing was borne by SRPs and some police spent most of their time in their own businesses and the police service was a “backup.” Rowley said this was also a question of management.


Describing the PSC as a “eunuch,” he said the other issue was that the process for putting people in place has now become a problem, and the Prime Minister had once said Government would repeal the situation “soon.” He also said the acting Police Commissioner was also lacking the comfort of an appointment as commissioner. 


Nor does the public believe the commissioner is in charge of his men, he added, and that was not wanted in the current environment. What was needed was repeal and a proper arrangement. If that was presented, the PNM would support it, he said. Appealing for the issue to be removed from Cabinet-sub committee level because “blood was flowing in the streets,” Rowley said it should be brought to Parliament. 


Rowley said the PSC’s review of the performance of acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams at times made the CoP’s office a laughing stock. Saying it was a serious office that ought to command respect, he said it was very unseemly when the acting Co emerged from reviews that appeared to diminish him and further public comments were made by the PSC, it was very unseemly.


He said he couldn’t understand how the acting CoP could feel confident in managing his men when his public persona was “that of a little boy who goes to these exams every so often and is ridiculed by the commission. That ought not to happen.” 


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