The fight in the courtroom for the Police Services Board (PSC) and the appointment of a police commissioner is also bothering taxpayers.
My former fellow independent senator, the Reverend Winston Joseph, like a few others, asked about the many recommendations of Cabinet committees on reform of the PSC and improvement of the police service.
About a month ago, as the former president of the PSC, I published a summary of the troubling issues in three dailies to help avert the coming storm.
I wonder now what more can I say or do?
The collapse of the ineffective structure of the PSC and its convoluted process was bound to occur. And as a social science meteorologist, I have conscientiously given repeated warnings.
But as Chamber of Commerce CEO Gabriel Faria and economist Mariano Browne complained, âThe government just isn’t listening.
Many are now worried about a country they love and to which they have provided services to help improve public safety and governance. Their public service has been published in and out of Parliament. Today, I also speak for them.
I’m talking about 2013, when members of the PSC and I met the then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the Attorney General, the Minister of National Security and the Minister of Justice. We explained the obstructive deficiencies in and around the PSC.
She graciously accepted our explanations and asked her cabinet to appoint a multisectoral review team with the general mandate “to consider giving greater autonomy, relevance and clarity to the constitutional mandate and the functions of the Police Services Commission. “.
The 12 highly qualified members of the committee included the Attorney General, the Minister of National Security, the Minister and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration, the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, the Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, the Chairman of the Association of Social Police and Social Protection and two members of the management and legal advisers. The opposition was also invited (two members attended the first meeting).
I was appointed president. The committee and its sub-committees carried out a great deal of research, analysis and consultation. The committee’s report was presented and considered by cabinet.
Nothing else. No wonder some members of the committee kept asking me, âWhat happened? ”
Is it because of our conflicting political system that divides? Is it because of other political priorities? Or what?
Thirty-five administrative and legislative recommendations were formulated. A few elements have been retained, for example Legal Opinion 103 of 2009, which stated that âif the commissioner is absent for any reason and the appointment of his successor is pendingâ, the CPS âmay appoint a person occupying or acting in the office. deputy commissioner to act as commissioner. Very simple.
However, this year Legal Notice 183 (Article 4) amended this to read: “The commission may submit to the President a list of suitably qualified persons from within the ranks of the police service, including those under contract or previously under contract. to act as commissioner. â¦ Pending the conclusion of the prescribed procedure.
Why this complicated change?
In January 2017, the government appointed a Police Force Audit Committee (PMAC) made up of eight highly qualified members. The eight members were myself as chair, Jacqueline Wilson (vice chair), Harold Phillip (acting DCP), Erla Christopher (acting DCP), Allan Meiguel (lawyer), Dr Levis Guy-Obiakor, Anand Ramesar (Acting Deputy Superintendent and member of the Police Social and Welfare Association) and Dr Zameer Mohammed. Trevor Percival led a support team with dedicated secretary Diana Newsam.
Once again, a lot of research, analysis, consultation has been done. Almost 100 recommendations were made in a 600-page report to improve policing inside and out, improve efficiency and accountability in terms of discipline, measured performance and overhaul of the PSC. .
Receiving the report in October 2017, Prime Minister Dr Rowley pledged to “bring it to Cabinet” and “act quickly” as “a blueprint for police reform”.
The last thing we heard about this PMAC report was that it was tabled in Parliament and then sent to a special joint committee chaired by MP Fitzgerald Hinds.
Of course, a cabinet could put aside any report. But we cannot continue like this.
My reminder of the above examples is not to embarrass but, to say, given the complicated and costly mess the country finds itself in now, there is an opportunity for the government and the opposition.
Reform the CPS. Take a quick look at the Constitution (Amendment) Act (No. 6 of 2006).
I know old soldiers never die. We keep trying.
But for how long ?