Cop gets leave to challenge police promotion advisory board

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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A High Court judge has permitted a sergeant of police to challenge the legality of the constitution of the Promotions Advisory Board and the validity of a merit list generated by the body responsible for promoting second-division officers in the police service.

On Tuesday, Justice Christopher Sieuchand granted leave to Sgt Trivelle Petti to pursue his judicial review claim.

Petti is assigned to the human resource branch of the police service. His lawsuit contends the decision by the Police Commissioner to continue to promote second division officers to the rank of inspector based on a merit list generated in 2020 and extended to December 21, 2023, is illegal since the PAB, at the time of generating the list, was illegally constituted.

Petti’s lawsuit takes issue with the appointment of the representative of the Ministry of National Security on the PAB, which sat in October 2020 to assess and interview officers for promotion.

The lawsuit contends correspondence from the ministry’s permanent secretary shows the representative, at the time, was not approved by the ministry to be a member of the PAB as the individual was not an employee or senior officer of the ministry. The PAB consists of a deputy commissioner, an assistant commissioner, a director of human resources in the police service, a ministry representative, and an independent consultant.

A representative of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association is also present as an observer while a civilian secretary is appointed to function as administrator and record-keeper.

Petti’s lawsuit said he was interviewed in November 2020 but was not among the 91 officers promoted under the merit list generated in December 2020.

After the merit list was extended for another year, Petti’s lawsuit said in April, five officers were promoted to the rank of inspector.

The lawsuit maintains the commissioner should not use the order of merit list or rely on the scores provided by the “then illegally constituted PAB” to promote second division officers.

“The decision to continue to promote second division officers is unlawful.”

Petti is represented by attorneys Kiel Taklalsingh, Stefan Ramkissoon, Kavita Moonasar, and Keron Ramkhalwhan.

Newsday understands a group of aggrieved police officers are also expected to challenge the legitimacy of some 900 promotions of constables to corporals. In a memo in December, Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher said after she was notified of “anomalies in the allocation of marks” and asked for a report from DCP Ramnarine Samaroo to determine “the nature, source, and extent of any possible anomalies.”