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PSC voted on DCP selection with faulty ‘PCA’ info

Published: 
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Former Police Service Commission chairman Dr Maria-Therese Gomes during yesterday’s meeting of the Special Select Committee. PICTURE OFFICE OF THE PARLIAMENT

It seems as though there was misinformation by Police Service Commission (PSC) members regarding recommendations made by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) to have disciplinary action taken against a candidate over allegations of serious misconduct.

During yesterday’s sitting of the Special Select Committee to clarify the PSC’s decision in the selection process for Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioners, former chairman Dr Maria-Therese Gomes said based on the notion that the case against the candidate was closed, they voted against taking disciplinary action against the officer and also on whether or not the candidate should be debarred from participating as a candidate for the Deputy Commissioner of Police selection process.

As part of the selection process, security vetting is required and the PSC wrote to the PCA for relevant information. The PCA supplied one file on one candidate regarding a 2011 claim of misbehaviour.

Gomes said based on the file received about the candidate, the PSC sought to get additional information from the candidate and had written to him, which she said he “categorically denied.”

Gomes did say that among the documents received in the file was a document stating the matter was closed.

However, PCA sources yesterday confirmed to the T&T Guardian that the matter was not closed and that only a recommendation of closure was made by an attorney in a document dated July 3, 2013. The PCA source said it was an internal memo containing the legal opinion from a junior attorney. The source added that the matter was only closed late last year when recommendations were given to the PSC to have disciplinary action initiated against the candidate. It was on this premise that the PSC voted in favour not to have disciplinary actions against the candidate.

“We took a decision and it was 3-1 that we were not going to take disciplinary action and we would give the candidate 24 hours to produce some more information. When the candidate produced the information, we then looked at that information to come to another decision to take a vote,” Gomes said.

She explained that there was another vote where she took the casting vote on whether or not the PSC should investigate further regarding the same allegations levelled against the said candidate. The PSC voted against a further investigation.

Committee member Randall Mitchell asked at this point if the PSC “applied a lot of weight to an internal correspondence on the PCA’s file with evidence and a recommendation and if the PSC didn’t find that it was not worth pursuing.”

Asked by committee chairman Fitzgerald Hinds if that was the usual process in terms of investigating recommendations from the PCA, Gomes replied: “In my tenure, we never investigated anyone…we can call in someone on enquiry to ask but we don’t have an investigator.”

Hinds then asked Gomes if by the PSC calling on the candidate to answer to the allegations it could be deemed be an investigation, Gomes replied: “Yes...you can consider that an investigation.”

Contacted for comment following yesterday session, PCA head David West said he was willing to go before the special committee again if the need arose.

“We are willing to go back before the committee to clear up any ambiguities that arose out of today’s (yesterday’s) hearing.”

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