PSC head seeks new police commissioner by year-end

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

File photo: Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman, retired Justice Judith Jones.

POLICE Service Commission (PSC) chairman retired Justice Judith Jones said by next month the commission will advertise to recruit a substantive Commissioner of Police (CoP), and she personally anticipated the post holder being in office by year-end.

She spoke on Wednesday at a virtual sitting of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Local Authorities, Service Commissions and Statutory Authorities Committee, chaired by Independent Senator Dr Varma Deyalsingh, to discuss the PSC’s institutional strengthening.

Acting CoP Mc Donald Jacob now heads the Police Service, replacing Gary Griffith, who has launched a political career since his fractious exit from the CoP’s post.

JSC member Lisa Morris-Julian asked, “What is the current status of the recruitment process for the Commissioner of Police and the Deputy Commissioner of Police?”

Jones replied that the PSC was now looking at the process it would adopt.

“We anticipate that by the end of the second quarter of this year advertisements will be out and once the notices are out, the process will run smoothly, we hope.”

She said a process was being sought “that can meet all the requirements, as indicated by the requirements of time, finance and transparency.”

She said the PSC was actively working on this.

“The end of the second quarter is June. We anticipate there will be advertisements out by that time.”

Morris-Julian asked by what date a substantive CoP would be recruited and whether a new process would be used.

Jones replied, “There will be, of necessity, some difference in the process, because of course the Legal Notice has changed. So our parameters are slightly different.

“Again, it is difficult at this stage for me to commit, without the commission having taken a decision, on how we will proceed.”

On an end-date, she said the PSC first had to consider a number of matters, as there was a new Legal Notice and new PSC members.

“Things that were done in the past may not be things that this commission would want to do.

“Speaking for myself, I would hope that certainly by the end of the year we should have completed the process. That’s the best I can assist, I’m afraid.”

Jones said she understood the country’s anxiety to name a substantive CoP, but it was crucial to get the process right, as errors could cause delays three or four times as long as the actual recruitment period.

Deyalsingh asked if the PSC usually checks on the integrity of assets owned by applicants.

Jones replied that she was very satisfied with the very thorough security and background checks done on applicants by the Strategic Services Agency (SSA).

Director of Public Administration (DPA) Corey Harrison said these checks included details such as the possible bankruptcy of applicants.

Jones said the PSC has established a “relevancy policy” to state which specific master’s degrees applicants for the posts of CoP and DCP should hold, saying this was hitherto a “grey area.”

She said the PSC was developing a statement to explain to applicants the legal prerequisites for their needing to have had increasing levels of job responsibility in their careers.

PSC member Jayanti Lutchmedial asked how the PSC would treat with allegations against an applicant made on social media.

Jones replied that it would seek legal advice.

Lutchmedial asked whether the PSC would hire an independent investigator to probe such allegations, and Jones replied, “Maybe.”

Jones wanted the commission to be restructured soon so as to remedy a staff shortage (of mainly experienced case management officers and transcriptionists) and so let the commission do its daily duties such as tackling a backlog of appeals.

She said, “We are in dire straits with respect to staff. The unit is poorly staffed. It makes our ability to clear that backlog extremely difficult.

“I’m hoping our plea here will fall on fertile ground so we can get our restructuring on board so we can fulfil our mandate.”

Harrison said he expected the restructuring to be done by the end of June.