Change way CoP is chosen
By MIRANDA LA ROSE Tuesday, August 27 2013
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SINGLE FILE: Members of the Defence Force on horseback ride single-file along Barbados Road, Federation Park, Port-of-Spain, yesterday....
THE Opposition PNM is asking Government to go to the Parliament as quickly as possible to abolish the laws that govern the search and appointment of a Commissioner of Police, and to take immediate action in nine other areas to improve the crime fighting security situation in East Port-of-Spain and nationally.
Other recommendations include the immediate establishment of a Standing Joint Select Committee of Parliament on crime suppression and security, amend existing legislation to give more powers to the Police Complaints Authority, amend existing “witness tampering” legislation, and conduct an immediate manpower audit of the Police Service.
The requests were made when Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar met last Thursday to collaborate on crime suppression and security issues.
At that meeting Rowley told the media yesterday at his Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, office that no agreement on the proposals were reached. He is hopeful that at Thursday’s meeting agreement could be reached on some of them.
The collaborative effort between the Government and the Opposition, he said, will be done at the parliamentary level as against getting involved in the day-to-day operations of the Executive.
From the discussions held last week at the Office of the Prime Minister, Rowley said that Government appears to be open to some of the proposals.
On the first recommendation, he said the convoluted process involved in the appointment of a CoP must be abolished, and a simplified process by an enlarged Police Service Commission (which will include the chairmen of other appropriate independent service commissions) be put in place, and the Parliament be excluded in the decision-making process.
The current process, which opens the door for the appointment of foreigners, he said, should be reviewed and confined to a search among nationals. This was necessary to bring back confidence to the service, he said. The suggestion for a manpower audit of the Police Service, he said, will determine its strength and what is required, and will deal with promotion and motivation issues.
The PNM has recommended an effective information gathering unit, such as the disbanded Special Anti-crime Unit of TT (SAUTT) for crime detection and crime prevention.
Also recommended was the activation of laws to establish municipal police units, each of 100 persons, in the 15 local government municipalities and corporations, including the Tobago House of Assembly.
The call to amend the legislation to give greater powers to the Police Complaints Authority, he said, will include the right to independently prosecute offending police officers.
Though a Standing JSC on Crime Suppression and Security will not be able to question publicly all security and intelligence issues, Rowley said such a committee will however be able to review, oversee, monitor and report on the policies, programmes and operational effectiveness of the human, financial and other resources deployed in the security systems for crime fighting.
Another proposal calls for “the creation of a specific offence for “witness tampering” to be identified as a crime with the severest penalties attached.”
Also proposed is the creation of a specific offence related to the unlawful eviction of person or persons from premises by way of threats, force or any menacing act.
According to Rowley, the PNM also wants Government to implement the urban renewal plan for East Port-of-Spain that it had begun, and heed the recommendations of the Ryan Report. The PNM also wants Government to commit “not to downgrade the city of Port-of-Spain” since its economic health, growth and well-being provides the best opportunity for sustainable jobs and other opportunities for residents of the inner city and the rest of the nation. Expressing confusion over Government’s divergent positions on the anti-gang legislation, Rowley said the PNM has agreed to look at any new proposals which Government may want to advance at this time.