Former chairman of the Police Service Commission and independent senator Prof Ramesh Deosaran says the T&T Police Service (TTPS) has now become more vulnerable to political pressure. He said such expected pressures, however, can be mitigated or resisted as long as the police do what is right and doing it the right way, fairly and fearlessly.
Deosaran gave his feature address on police challenges and concerns to retired police officers, Police Batch 1969-2011, Celebrating Brotherhood, at the Police Barracks, St James, on Saturday.
Deosaran said "This is a time when the management and operations of the TTPS are being subjected to intense public and political scrutiny for six major reasons."
He listed the six major reasons:
1: the colourful character of the Commissioner who continues to live a charmed life.
2: the unsettling political process through which the Commissioner was appointed.
3: the troubling murder rate, the widespread fear of crime, the relatively low detection rate and the political implications.
4: lingering public concerns about police integrity.
5: social media and call-in radio being merciless in complaining about crime—reported and nonreported—and the troubling level of police response to citizens’ complaints.
6: the politics of policing connected to the increased focus on white-collar crime and state corruption especially where high-level private sector and public officers are involved.
"These conditions find the police surrounded by criminogenic news-carrying and deadly political rumours," he said
"It must be noted that while police management and the Commissioner’s visibility have key strategic roles, much of the operational details, catching the crooks as it were, rests on the integrity and competence of Second Division officers.
"In such circumstances, the Police Service should be depoliticised as far as possible in order to gain citizens’ confidence to serve as witnesses, to report on illegal guns and drugs, and even on police misconduct."
He said the police complaint bureaucracy should be decentralised from Port-of-Spain into various outlying districts as far as possible.
Deosaran said the judicial protection to witnesses now proposed by current legislation was quite welcome.
He said some 60 years after Independence, especially during the last 25 years, the TTPS was expected to develop top-level intelligence gathering systems, sophisticated investigative and surveillance techniques, effective management, leadership and human resource capabilities, staff assessment techniques to discover and train the best for succession planning, top to bottom, and a disciplinary system that was fair and effective.
Deosaran said much of this now seemed to be works in progress. Far too often, reasons have been put forward to import foreign officers to do work that the TTPS's own officers could do or should have been trained a long time ago to do.
He said technology could be bought, overseas training could be continued, but when you have a local cadre of well-trained, able and willing officers to do the work, let them try and learn as other countries have done with theirs.