Government has done a new Legal Notice changing the process for selection of a Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner, revoking Legal Notice 183 which had guided the selection process done by the last Police Service Commission led by Bliss Seepersad.
The new Legal Notice 277 facilitates a fresh search for a CoP and Deputy CoP. This means the merit list for Commissioner of Police done by the previous PSC will no longer apply.
The notice also changes the process to appoint an acting CoP, limiting that to certain ranks of officers in the T&T Police Service and not contracted people.
Former Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has already slammed the changes, calling it “desperation by certain individuals” in making the changes to criteria, including, “drafting a notice deliberately to ensure Gary Griffith can’t act as Commissioner.”
The new notice was confirmed to Guardian Media on Thursday night. It is Legal Notice 277 in the Legal Supplement Part B (Vol 60, No 177) carrying Thursday’s date.
The notice is titled “The Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police (Selection Process (No 2) Order 2021.
It was signed by C Hemlee, Secretary to Cabinet. The notice will be tabled in the Senate next Tuesday.
The notice made by the President under Section 123(2) of the Constitution is subject to negative resolution of Parliament.
Sources said that meant the order was subsidiary legislation in the form of a regulation and once issued on Thursday, became law. It does not require debate or votes in Parliament.
Apart from provisions for selecting a CoP and Deputy CoP, the new order details new processes to undertake for acting appointments and revokes the Selection Process Order of 2009.
An October 14 legal judgement on the appointment of then acting CoP Griffith stated that acting appointment was null and void and that also applied to such appointments since 2009.
Previous clauses allowed contracted people to act as CoP.
Under the new notice, only officers holding or those acting in the office of Deputy CoP or Assistant Commissioner of Police will now be considered.
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds did not answer calls or messages about the new order yesterday. But an official, who did not wish to be named, said the new order was a move to correct deficiencies regarding the October 14 ruling against acting appointments.
They noted that acting appointments will now have to be approved by the House of Representatives.
The PSC, led by retired judge Judith Jones, yesterday acknowledged receipt of Guardian Media’s query on the new Legal Order 227 but did not give details as to when the search for a new CoP will begin.
Griffith slams Young,
UNC filing motion
In an immediate reaction to the new Legal Notice 277, Opposition Senator Wade Mark said it was a move to debar former Commissioner Griffith from being a CoP contender.
And Griffith, who had called for the previous merit list to be used, slammed acting Attorney General Stuart Young, saying the new notice was a “comical, ludicrous, desperate attempt” to stop that original list from being used.
Hours after the new Police Service Commission was sworn in on November 16, Griffith’s attorney Larry Lalla wrote new chairman, retired Justice Judith Jones, immediately citing Griffith’s legitimate expectation on the last merit list and asking that it be used. Lalla stated that Griffith wasn’t told why the merit list was withdrawn and he felt the situation was unconstitutional and unlawful.
Yesterday, Griffith, when asked if he would take legal action, cited Lalla’s letter, adding, “It’s not by chance acting AG Young rushed in the last minute before demitting office as AG to draft this (Notice). This shows cowardice because anyone doesn’t have the strength to make decisions...since they’re in contrast to 89 per cent of the population.
“The pettiness was so blatant in this new notice—they made sure to remove the aspect for contracted people to act as CoP, limiting it to DCPs. So they drafted a notice deliberately to ensure Gary Griffith can’t act as CoP, removing everything done previously that would have allowed me the opportunity to act. It shows the desperation by certain individuals.”
In July, Opposition senator Mark brought a motion to annul Legal Order 183 but this failed. Yesterday, Mark said once Legal Order 277 is tabled in Senate next week, he will file a motion against it. He said it placed power in the hands of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, since the new order “dumped” the last merit list which was taken to President’s House in August by the previous PSC chairman and “a high public official intervened.” He said that list was withdrawn.
“One would have thought the new commission would have accessed that list to determine its validity and application to their ongoing work on appointments—the PM’s handcuffed the Police Service Commission from examining the old merit list!” Mark added.
Deputy Commissioner McDonald Jacobs recently said he would consider applying for the post of Commissioner of Police.
Acting CoP from TTPS ranks only
Under the new Legal Order 227 for acting appointments to the office of Commissioner of Police, the PSC shall establish and maintain an Order of Merit List listing, in descending order of seniority, the officers who (a) holding or acting in the office of Deputy CoP or Assistant Commissioner of Police; and (b) possess the qualifications and experience required for appointment to the office of CoP.
• Where–(a) the Commissioner of Police is or is likely to be – (i) absent from T&T; (ii) on vacation leave; or (iii) unable by reason of illness or any other reason to perform the functions of office or (b) the office of COP is or is likely to become vacant, the PSC shall select the most senior officer on the Order of Merit List and submit that officer’s name to the President in accordance with the procedure set out in section 123 of the Constitution.
• Where, in relation to subclause (3), the House of Representatives does not approve of the most senior officer on the Order of Merit List pursuant to section 123 of the Constitution, subsequent nominations in order of merit may be submitted to the HOR from the Order of Merit List only in accordance with the procedure in the Constitution.
• The “Order of Merit List” means the list established and maintained under subclause (2). 5. (1)
Notwithstanding clause 3, the selection process for acting appointments to the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police shall be as provided in this clause.
• For acting appointments to the office of Deputy CoP, the Commission shall establish and maintain an Order of Merit List which shall list, in descending order of seniority, the officers who– (a) are holding or acting in the office of Assistant Commissioner of Police; and (b) possess the qualifications and experience required for appointment to the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police.
• Where– (a)a Deputy CoP is or is likely to be– (i) absent from TT; (ii) on vacation leave; or (iii) unable by reason of illness or any other reason to perform the functions of Deputy CoP; or (b)an office of Deputy CoPis or is likely to become vacant, the PSC shall select the most senior officer on the Order of Merit List and submit that officer’s name to the President in accordance with the procedure set out in section 123 of the Constitution.
• Where, in relation to subclause (3), the HOR does not approve of the most senior officer on the Order of Merit List pursuant to section 123 of the Constitution, subsequent nomination in order of merit may be submitted to the House of Representatives from the Order of Merit List only in accordance with the procedure set out in the Constitution.