PSWA: CoP selection process appears transparent

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

ASP Gideon Dickson –

President of the police service social welfare association (TTPSSWA) acting ASP Gideon Dickson says he is optimistic that the latest efforts to select a substantive Police Commissioner have been transparent as all stakeholders have been engaged by the Police Service Commission (PSC).

On Tuesday it was reported that acting Police Commissioner Erla Christopher topped the merit list of candidates for the post of commissioner.

Christopher’s name was submitted to Parliament and members of the Lower House are expected to debate on her appointment on Friday.

Speaking with Newsday on Tuesday Dickson said he was pleased that the selection process reached this stage and was confident all procedures and protocols were followed.

He added that the association and other groups were in communication with the PSC on how far the process at progressed.

“This time around was the most transparent in terms of the engagement, with the (Police) Service Commission communicating with stakeholders who had vested interests.

“I want to commend the Service Commission who sometime in either late November, early December indicated that they would have finished the process by the end of January and they kept their word so that in itself is commendable.”

Dickson said the association was prepared to offer its full support to Christopher and any other candidate who was most suitable for the role.

He stressed that while the Police Commissioner had a large responsibility in public safety, crime was an issue that should be addressed at every level of society.

“Whether it was Ms Christopher or anyone else, because the association believes the process was fair and transparent, we are prepared to work with whoever comes out as confirmed, to try and do our part in ensuring safety and security for all of Trinidad and Tobago.

“One thing we want to quickly hasten to add is that no one person can fix the entire crime scourge facing Trinidad and Tobago, it’s a situation where all stakeholders have to realise their part to play from the man in the street to the people that legislate, all of us have a part to play in the criminal justice system.”

Newsday also contacted two of the candidates for police commissioner who also said they were pleased with the transparency of the selection process.

Responding to Newsday’s questions via WhatsApp on Tuesday afternoon, Lt Col Sheldon Ramanan said he felt he did his best in all assessments including the final interview before the Police Service Commission (PSC).

Ramanan also said while he was not told of his ranking in the merit list, he congratulated Christopher for her performance in topping the list.

“I maintain my position that I am confident in the institutional independence of the Police Service Commission and the integrity of the recruitment process thus far.

“I am aware based on media reports that the current acting Commissioner of Police Erla Christopher topped the merit list.

“I cannot verify same as I did not receive any formal notice and/or communications from the Police Service Commission secretariat reference my final score and/or placement or that of any of the other candidates who were successfully short-listed.

“If this is in fact the case and true, I would like to extend my profound congratulations and best wishes to Ms Erla Christopher.”

He said if confirmed as Police Commissioner, Christopher’s job would be challenging but not impossible as the effectiveness of the police service would come from establishing a strong leadership.

“Based on my assessment of the TT Police Service, I verily believe that the absence of effective leadership continues to plague that organisation internally and adversely impact its membership’s ability to effectively fight crime.

“Ms Erla Christopher has a daunting task ahead but it is not an impossible one.

“The key to carrying out the TTPS’ law enforcement mandate lies in institutional strengthening and restoring police legitimacy, trust and confidence with a specific focus on ‘customer service.'”

Ramanan said any crime reduction strategy should be intelligence and evidence based and encompass technology, while engaging society at all levels.

Ramanan is an attorney and is the Inspector General of the defence force.

Newsday also contacted Snr Supt Andre Norton who said he was also confident that the selection process was done professionally.

Norton said he was willing to offer his full support to Christopher, noting that police required collaboration among all ranks and sectors.

“We are at a point in the organisation where all hands must be on deck and I will give my full support to the new leader of the organisation in taking it forward so we can bring about some change and stymie what is currently taking place.

“We need to do that collectively as a team, because policing is about teamwork, it’s not about individuals.”