Saddam Hosein’s client seeks CoP’s assessment report from PSC

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Commissioner of Police
Erla Harewood-Christopher –

THE law firm run by Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein is representing a client who is seeking the details of any assessment recently done on Commissioner of Police (CoP) Erla Harewood-Christopher, by way of a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Police Service Commission (PSC).

On May 21, media houses were sent a copy of a letter to the PSC by attorney Samantha Singh-Poona of the firm Saddam Hosein and Co on behalf of Labiba Aziza Mohammed of Cunupia.

The letter said on February 3, 2023, the House of Representatives approved the President’s notification of the PSC’s nomination of Harewood-Christopher, in her initial appointment as CoP. Based on her age, she had to retire on May 15, 2023, but then Legal Notice 149 of 2023 extended her service for a year under the Police Service Act.

On May 13 in the House, Attorney General Reginald Armour promised Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh a decision on Harewood-Christopher within a day, the letter said.

A few hours later a statement by the Office of the Prime Minister said Cabinet had again extended her service by a year, as of May 15.

The letter said media houses had reported acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert telling a post-Cabinet briefing on May 16 the PSC had reviewed her performance for March 2023 and February 2024, done an assessment plus an evaluation report, and then graded her scores under various administrative and policing categories as being “good.”

However, the letter cited media reports of adverse reactions to the extension from several chambers of commerce. It quoted Fyzabad Chamber of Commerce president Angie Jairam as saying, “It is appalling to have a failing police commissioner reappointed.”

San Fernando Business Association president Daphne Bartlett was cited as being disappointed in the CoP’s extension, saying under a high crime rate many business owners were considering migration.

The letter said Siparia Chamber of Commerce president Emerson Chadee complained, “The whole country is in a state of bewilderment and trepidation owing to the commissioner’s extension.”

The letter quoted Justice Frank Seepersad criticising the CoP over a delay in a Tobagonian businessman getting a firearm user’s licence.

“Upon noting the contents of these newspaper articles, juxtaposed with the unacceptable escalation of criminal activity in Trinidad and Tobago, our client as a concerned citizen has expressed shock on learning of Cabinet’s decision to extend the service of Mrs Erla Harewood-Christopher,” the letter said. “Our client remains baffled, bewildered and befuddled that the PSC gave Mrs Harewood-Christopher a ‘good rating.'”

The letter said under the FOIA (section 13) the firm’s client was seeking “a copy of the annual performance appraisal report and/or evaluation and/or assessment of Mrs Erla Harewood-Christopher, CoP, that was conducted for the period 2023-2024.”

The request also sought the date of any such appraisal, evaluation or assessment.

“We trust that our client’s request will be expeditiously dealt with, in conformity with section 15 of the act.”

That section says a public authority must take reasonable steps to notify an applicant of the approval or refusal of his/her request as soon as practicable but within 30 days of the request.