Police association head admits…Erla not at her best before JSC

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

President of the Police Service Social and Welfare Association Gideon Dickson. –

POLICE Social and Welfare Association (PSWA) head ASP Gideon Dickson admitted that Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher’s performance on Wednesday before the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on National Security, was “not the best.” However, he also expressed concern about committee member Paul Richards’ tone in asking questions to the top cop.

Speaking on Thursday with Newsday, Dickson said he and the association was mindful of the plethora of public criticisms – including over social media – of Christopher-Harewood ‘s one-year tenure in the hot-seat of police commissioner.

Asked about Independent Senator Richards berating Harewood-Christopher over widespread non-use of body cameras by police officers, Dickson said, “I don’t want to nit-pick eh. I know the commissioner is well aware and capable to answer that question and manage the organisation.

“The truth is, I would have hoped she would have answered that question a lot better than how it came across.” He said his remarks reflect the association’s viewpoint too.

“The fact remains that when people sit on the outside and give their critique and make recommendations, an astute leader would look at everything and then look at their resources and simply do what is necessary to be able to achieve whatever the targets are.

“The delivery might not have been the best yesterday (at the JSC) but we need to pick the positives from that meeting and move forward,” he suggested. Dickson objected to how Richards grilled the commissioner.

“In the same breath, we need to rebut what might be construed as the negative communication in relation to the matter.

“I would think that Dr Richards could have done a better job in terms of communicating what he wanted to communicate or asking the question of the commissioner in a different way. Because that person he is talking to, that is the Commissioner of Police! So it is not only what you do; it is how you do it.”

“The commissioner ought to have addressed that delivery (from Richards) before even addressing the question he asked.”

Asked point blank if, based on her performance at the JSC sitting, Harewood-Christopher still retained his confidence, Dickson said, after giving it some thought, “I would prefer to not comment at this time.”

Asked if, after her performance at the JSC – at which she admitted to not meeting set crime-reduction targets – Harewood-Christopher still retained the confidence of the association and its members, Dickson replied, “That is a question (which) I have not yet engaged my members or my executive team members on, in order to be able to respond directly. I am yet to do it.”

Asked for his personal view as to whether the TTPS leader gave a good performance, or, whether he personally knew her to be better than the impression her conduct at the JSC meeting would left many people with, Dickson said, “My personal opinion has no place or space at this point in time. Whenever I speak, I speak as the association president.

“In fairness to my office, I would need to consult with my people before I make such a pronouncement.”

At the JSC meeting, chaired by Port of Spain South MP and attorney Keith Scotland, Harewood-Christopher at times looked visibly uncomfortable while answering questions asked by committee members.