PSC to table cops’ complaint over promotions

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher. – File photo

THE POLICE Service Commission (PSC) is expected to consider a complaint by 93 police constables about Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher’s handling of the recent promotion exercise when it sits in February.

The constables’ attorneys were told their complaint would be put before the PSC for consideration at its next statutory meeting on February 8.

On January 13, attorneys representing the 93 constables complained about the commissioner’s conduct and that of the Promotion Advisory Board in the 2023 promotion exercise for the rank of corporal.

“The PSC is empowered to make appointments on promotion and to confirm appointments and also, terminate the services of the commissioner or a deputy commissioner of police [after giving her an opportunity to be heard] on several grounds,” attorneys Jagdeo Singh, Karina Singh and Leon Kalicharan said in their letter to the PSC’s chairman. The PSC is led by retired judge Judith Jones.

They say they have exhausted the pre-action process and all their enquiries on the promotions fiasco, which saw some 900 officers elevated to the rank of corporals and resulted in an apology by Harewood-Christopher, who also called for an audit of the published merit list, have gone unanswered by the top cop.

“Unfortunately, this flagrant disregard was consistent with the CoP’s state of indifference towards our clients and their rights and interests as members of the TTPS.

“It was at this stage, our clients’ disappointment plateaued and had now evolved to a feeling of hopelessness and capitulation,” the attorneys said in their letter.

On January 24, the Police Service Social and Welfare Association held a media briefing at which the issue of the recent promotion debacle was discussed.

Association president Insp Gideon Dickson said what should have been a historic process had now been tainted by inconsistencies.

He said the debacle had impacted the morale of members who were not at fault and called on the executive of the police service to “do the honourable thing” and ensure those officers, who should have been promoted and who endured the rigorous six-month interview process, are elevated in the best interest of the serving officers.

Dickson warned that because of the impact on the affected officers’ morale, the “boots on the ground” would be compromised and so to safety and security.

In their letter calling on the PSC to review the handling of the promotion process, the officers’ attorneys said it was now “untenable” for their clients to “continually subject themselves to a process and system which has consistently failed and deprived them of a procedurally fair and transparent process.”

“It is, therefore, our respectful view that in light of the plague of discrepancies contained in the merit list and the promotion list [subsequently effected], is patently compromised.”

“We find it necessary to bring these important matters to the urgent attention of the commission for their urgent action and/or response and more specifically, it calls for an investigation and the proportionate action on this long-standing current fiasco in which resolution seems to be protracted indefinitely.”

The letter said the constables were now frustrated, having lost all confidence in the process and having subjected themselves to “what ought to have been a fair and transparent process having regard to the previous prevailing challenges and failures of the CoP and PAB.

“It is unfortunate as our clients are now catapulted further into the abyss of impropriety led by the executive of the TTPS, chiefly the CoP and have now wandered into the unlawful.

“We therefore respectfully consider the supervisory and regulatory nature of the commission is now triggered in the interest of restoring some measure of integrity and accountability of a constitutional functionary in the general public interest and amongst the TTPS membership. Our clients remain hopeful in the commission’s swift action in restoring trust and confidence in the management and operations of the TTPS.”