PSC: New CoP in new year

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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

A new commissioner of police (CoP) will be appointed by January 31, 2023, the Police Service Commission (PSC) said in a statement on Tuesday extending the recruitment process deadline.The PSC gave itself an extra month, in order to vet the nominees.

The statement said that on July 8, the PSC had anticipated the recruitment and selection process would be done by the end of 2022. But on Tuesday it said, “The commission has commenced the process of vetting of all candidates as is required under the applicable law and governing the process for the establishment of an order-of-merit list for the office of Commissioner of Police.

“Unfortunately this process is now not expected to be completed by the end of 2022.”Additional time has become necessary to ensure for a proper and in-depth security vetting of candidates.”

The statement said the PSC believed it needed another month to complete the process.”Accordingly, the commission has extended the date for the completion of the selection process…to January 31, 2023.

“The commission wishes to thank all its stakeholders for their interest in the recruitment process.”

Under the Constitution, when the CoP post is publicly advertised, applicants are screened by the PSC secretariat, excluding commissioners, after which an independent assessment centre creates a shortlist which is sent to the President, who sends it to Parliament.

On the last occasion, a high government official reportedly intercepted the handing-over of the shortlist from the PSC to the President, after which the PSC imploded creating a constitutional crisis until the current board was put in place.

Amid all of this, retired justice Stanley John made an inquiry into an alleged bribery racket for firearm user’s licences, based on initial findings by retired rear admiral Hayden Pritchard and retired snr supt Arthur Barrington.

Former CoP Gary Griffith’s tenure saw record grants of FULs. Subsequently recent reports have arisen of several business owners using their guns to turn the tables on bandits, fatally.

On May 5, PSC chairman retired justice Judith Jones told the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Local Authorities, Service Commissions and Statutory Authorities that the PSC had faith in the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) to carry out security checks on candidates, would advertise the post by June and hoped to complete selection by year-end.

In a statement on July 8, the PSC said it had just done a performance appraisal of Griffith for his term of January-August 2021. Griffith had said an appraisal should be quicker, since if a substantive CoP died suddenly, the police service would have no CoP for a year.