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Hiring a CoP harder than choosing Pope

By SEAN DOUGLAS Wednesday, January 29 2014

LAST night all sides in the Senate agreed on the need for a new process to hire a permanent Commissioner of Police (CoP), speaking on a motion on the adjournment by Independent Senator Subhas Ramkhelawan.

He urged a retraction of Legal notice 102 of 2009 that he said sets out a protracted process to choose a new CoP that has left the nation leaderless and held to ransom. Ramkhelawan said the recruitment process has resulted in the hiring of “actors and contractors”, a reference to the likes of current Acting CoP Stephen Williams and past CoP James Philbert, both acting, plus former CoP Canada-born Dwayne Gibbs, hired on contract.

Ramkhelawan said the Director of Personnel Administration (DPA) “finds a firm to find a firm” to do a shortlist of candidates, and a recommendation is made to the Police Service Commission (PSC) which makes a merit list which is sent to the President who then forwards it to the House of Representatives to approve or reject the top-placed candidate.

“It’s a more complicated process than the selection of a Pope,” said Ramkhelawan, to the bemusement of Senators. “Or a president.” Minister of National Security Gary Griffith agreed on the need for reform, lamenting inaction over the past year to even find a recruitment firm.

“As of November last year, the chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) (Prof Ramesh Deosaran), indicated that following an inquiry to the Director of Personnel Administration, he was informed that after a lengthy advertisement no suitable firm has yet been found to advertise for a Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner,” said Griffith.

“What that means is that after a year-plus we are back at step one.” He said a Multi-Sectoral Review Team for the PSC had stated that the CoP selection process is “cumbersome and unduly expensive”.

Griffith said the team recommended that the selection process should be changed. He suggested removing the first four steps of the selection procedure and going straight into step five, but for this to happen legislation changes are needed.

Griffith said the lengthy process to name a permanent CoP in no way affects the functioning of the Acting CoP and the Police Service, although it could affect morale of officers. “It was a bipartisan approach that caused this Legal Notice 102 and it will take a bipartisan approach for us to get it right. So there’s no need to say who was at fault on this lengthy and non-productive process. What we need to do is to get it right.”

Opposition Senator Camille Robinson-Regis added, “I’d just like to state for the record that the People’s National Movement, in the course of our deliberations with the Government, had indicated previously that we are very willing to change this cumbersome process and we would do so immediately once the Government brings the legislation to Parliament.”

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