Erla Harewood-Christopher –
The Prime Minister said Government fully supports the one-year extension of the term of office Commissioner of Police (CoP) Erla Harewood-Christopher.
He made this statement in the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
In a media release on May 9, the National Security Ministry said the Cabinet agreed to extend the leadership term of the top cop on May 4.
Section 75 of the Police Service Act dictates that a first-division officer must retire at 60, but may, on the approval of the President, be granted three one-year extensions.
Harewood-Christopher turned 60 on May 15.
She is not obligated to be given further extensions by law, and if Cabinet chooses, she can be removed from office at the end of the year.
The contract for a police commissioner is usually three years.
Rowley claimed the UNC seems to have a problem with the appointment of a substantive commissioner
“This government does not subscribe to the fact that a temporary acting position is the best leadership for the police service.”
He reminded MPs it was only on February 3 that they met to approve the Police Service Commission’s recommendation to appoint Harewood-Christopher.”We are making the same assessment (now) that we were making 12 weeks ago.”
Rowley recalled it was the Opposition that indicated Harewood-Christopher was close to retirement.
Referring to the police’s efforts to deal with criminal gangs and home invasions, Rowley said many people would be surprised at significant successes the police have been having.
But he admitted these successes have not been sufficient to stop the number of people choosing a life of crime.
Rowley attributed this to a “revolving-door arrangement” which the police are grappling with.
This arrangement involves people who are not afraid of being arrested, come out on bail and continue their criminal activity.”The revolving-door arrangement has to be stopped.”
As he argued his case, Rowley made a brief faux pas.
“The police have been complaining to me as National Security Minister that their lives on the line.”
He corrected his statement to say that he was receiving complaints from police as National Security Council chairman. The minister is in fact Fitzgerald Hinds.
Rowley said this is why it is important for Government and the Opposition to co-operate in passing laws that make it unattractive for people to commit crimes.
He warned that until this happens, criminals will continue to have the upper hand over the authorities and law-abiding citizens.
On home invasions, Rowley said the police recently arrested six people for this type of crime. Police, he said, rely on information-gathering to arrest criminals. He reiterated his plea to citizens to report information about suspected criminal activities in their area to the police.
While admitting all the resources needed to fight crime may not be readily available, Rowley said it was important that whatever resources are available are used wisely