Police Service Commission opens application for top cop post

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher – File photo

After just over one year as Commissioner of Police (CoP), Erla Harewood-Christopher may face competition for her job as the Police Service Commission (PSC) has issued an ad calling suitably qualified people to apply for the post.

In the ad, which was published in today’s paper, the PSC said it is “seeking to appoint a suitably qualified TT national to the office of Commissioner of Police in the TT Police Service…and is inviting applications to fill the position.

The advertisement said the CoP “plans, organises, directs and controls all strategic activities of the Police Service in the enforcement of laws and ordinances, crime prevention and the protection of life and property in order to promote and achieve higher levels safety and security for the nation.”

The job summary said the work involves providing policy advice and decision-making support to the Minister, Permanent Secretary and the PSC and formulating, implementing and monitoring policies plans and programmes for the TTPS.

The successful applicant will also be required to manage the financial resources of the TTPS “particularly as it relates to the procurement of goods and services.”

The PSC said, “Work is performed with innovativeness, initiative, discretion and independent judgment and is reviewed as necessary to keep informed and to monitor effectiveness/accuracy based on functional policies.”

It said applicants must hold a Master’s degree in law, criminal justice, criminology, police service management or any other relevant degree from a recognised university.

Applicants must also have no less than 15 years’ experience of increasing responsibility in law enforcement.

Application forms must be submitted online only, with curriculum vitae and supporting documents to be uploaded online as well.

The deadline for applications to be submitted is 4 pm on May 3, 2024.

Harewood-Christopher was officially confirmed in the post by Parliament on February 3, 2023.

Speaking at the time of her appointment the Prime Minister said the PSC had nominated her “as the highest grade candidate” and she was “very well qualified through training and academia.”

Her appointment led to a legal battle after she reached the retirement age of 60 on May 15, 2023, and Cabinet extended her term by a year.

In June 2023, political activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj challenged the extension claiming the cabinet sidestepped the appointment process outlined in the constitution and in doing so, infringed on the doctrine of the separation of powers.

He said the extension order by the President, acting on the advice of the Cabinet, was therefore invalid, illegal, unconstitutional, void and of no legal effect.

On January 16, 2024, High Court Judge Justice Ricky Rahim dismissed the lawsuit.

He ruled that the 2006 Constitution Amendment, including the amendment to the Police Service Act, gave the cabinet the power to extend the CoP’s term.

The court said Parliament’s decision to leave the prescription of the term of office and any extensions of the CoP’s office to the government was a deliberate constitutional choice.

Maharaj at the time vowed to appeal the ruling and told Newsday he would take the matter to the Privy Council.