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Deosaran walks away from PSC

Published: 
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman Prof Ramesh Deosaran

Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman Prof Ramesh Deosaran has resigned in apparent frustration over Government’s failure to revamp the procedure for appointing a police commissioner and three deputies. The announcement, almost six months after Deosaran was given a second three-year-term at the helm of the commission, was made by President Anthony Carmona, who said he accepted the resignation in a press release yesterday. Deosaran’s resignation takes effect on September 1. 

Although Carmona’s statement quoted excerpts of Deosaran’s letter, the full text was not released and the President did not indicate the exact reason Deosaran had given for his decision. Since assuming office in April 2011, the outspoken criminologist has repeatedly criticised the process for making appointments to the four top four positions in the Police Service, which he described as “complicated, convoluted, outdated, cumbersome and expensive.”
 
Deosaran had suggested that the commission should handle the entire process, as opposed to the current system, which uses foreign firms to recruit candidates for the positions, with the commission only intervening at a late stage. In his letter, which was sent to Carmona last Friday, but was only acknowledged when the President returned from vacation on Tuesday, Deosaran also noted that he was part of a review team which proposed reforms to the administrative and legislative framework of the commission. 

Deosaran was quoted as saying in his letter, “You will recall, Mr President, when, as the review team’s chairman, I presented this report to you, I explained the extent to which the current framework prevents the PSC from executing its constitutional mandate with the required efficiency and effectiveness. I understand the Executive is giving this matter its attention.” 

Highlighting his achievements during his tenure, which was due to end in May 2017, Deosaran said the commission was able to strengthen the framework for periodic appraisals for the senior cops. He also said, “As chairman, I have ensured that the constitutionally required appointments of Commissioner (Acting) and Deputy Commissioner (Acting) of Police have been properly done last month so as to help ensure stability at the executive level of the Police Service.” 

He summed up: “In other words, Mr President, I have so far tried my best to execute my duty as well as to help bring the required reforms to the commission.” The T&T Guardian tried several times to reach Deosaran’s office and cellphone for further comment, but he did not respond.

Contacted yesterday on a timeline for Carmona’s appointment of a replacement, information officer for the Office of the President, Theron Boodan, said the procedure would take some time due to the qualification requirements and intense verification process required for the post. 

Asked for an update on the replacement for recently resigned Integrity Commission member Joel Edwards, Boodan said that issue too was equally tedious, as many of the applicants for the post were unsuitable and many others who were contacted refused the offer due to the nature of the job and the potential for criticism over high-profile decisions. 

Rowley not surprised
Speaking before an emergency PNM general council meeting at Balisier House, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said he was not surprised by the news of the resignation, as he did not support Deosaran’s second term.  I haven’t read his resignation as yet but I get the sense that there is frustration,” Rowley said. He said the situation was another component of the instability in the country, adding there was a general lack of confidence in T&T. 

“And when Mr Deosaran could have gone a few months ago, and resigns now, it doesn’t help our effort,” Rowley said. In a brief telephone interview yesterday, former PSC chairman Kenneth Lalla suggested Deosaran’s resignation might be related to the failure of legislators to address the dire need for reform. “Clearly he resigned in frustration. The current system is totally convoluted and politically controlled. It defeats the purpose of the Police Service,” Lalla said. 

But he said Deosaran’s resignation was not the main issue with the PSC, which should be urgently addressed. “Why is it collapsing? Why has the body has been very ineffective?” Lalla asked, noting that the issues with the processes first arose when he left office after the problematic reforms were introduced by Parliament.