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Rowley: No ‘recycled’ Deosaran

By SEAN DOUGLAS Saturday, May 17 2014

OPPOSITION Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday said the population’s high fear of violent crime and the poor detection-rate for murder mean the police are failing, and so he will not support the reappointment of incumbent chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Prof Ramesh Deosaran.

“I’ll not recycle plastic bottles,” he scoffed metaphorically. He rejected a Government motion that called for the House to approve President Anthony Carmona’s nomination of Deosaran as a member of the PSC, although saying Deosaran has a thorough resume, had given yeoman service, holds a top national honour, and was a dear colleague from University of the West Indies and Parliament. Rowley said he had backed Deosaran for the PSC in 2011 but would not now do so.

Saying the PSC is at the pinnacle of the management of the TT Police Service (TTPS) whose job it is to secure the population, he said the population has never before felt as insecure in the streets and in their homes as they do now.

“So we can’t be heaping praise on the Police Service Commission and the Police Service, because their assignment is to secure the population,” he said. Rowley hit the Government for failing to keep its promise to establish a new way of appointing a Commissioner of Police (CoP) rather than the “drawn-out, convoluted and wasteful” process now used. The process renders the PSC an eunuch, he said. “It is not working. It is a huge impediment on having an effective Police Service.”

He referred to the appointment of two foreigners to head the Police Service in 2010, namely Dwayne Gibbs and Jack Ewatski, and one local.

He said when in 2010 Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had promised to “soon” amend the process to hire a CoP which he had thought meant within one month or one year, but since then the Opposition has had to advocate the matter repeatedly, but to no avail.

Rowley was very dissatisfied with the temporary posting of Acting CoP, Stephen Williams, whom he said looked like he was awaiting crumbs from the table and like he has not got control of his men and women. He rejected the Government stance that the matter was before Cabinet’s Finance and General Purposes (F&GP) Committee.

Does the Government really live in TT? he asked, saying that while the matter is at F&GP, the police are ineffective and blood is flowing in the streets.

He found it strange that the PSC is seeking power to raise their own funds, saying they should have no difficulty getting public funding during the bloodbath happening now in TT.

Rowley was scathing at the PSC’s treatment of the Police Commissioner who has thousands of servicemen under his call yet whom he said had been reduced to the status of a naughty boy coming out of a principal’s office with his pants down after a caning for all to see how many stripes he had been dealt.

“That office (CoP) ought to command a certain respect and authority,” urged Rowley. “He ought not to be going every six weeks to be examined by the PSC, who would make comments about what questions they put to him.”

Rowley lamented the scenario of reporters outside of a PSC meeting waiting to ask the CoP how well he thought he had done in his appraisal interview.

“How can the Commissioner of Police manage thousands of men at arms if he has to go before the PSC like a little boy?” mused Rowley. “The arrangements are not the best practice.”

In an apparent barb at the PSC, he said little progress has been made in the management of the Police Service as measured by its output, success-rate and effectiveness.

A supposed fall in the murder detection-rate from 30 percent to single-figures meant that the people managing the police service ought not to get any automatic reappointment, argued Rowley. He said a recent murder in East Trinidad was witnessed by the victim’s family-members, who have not yet been interviewed by the police, and the “shooter” now probably feels a sense of impunity. “That word ‘impunity’ becomes a part of our vocabulary,” said Rowley.

Referring to the recent murder of Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal, Rowley bemoaned that while crimes are being committed with impunity, the House is being asked to reappoint the old PSC. Rowley vowed not to support the status quo, as things are now too serious and too dangerous.

Saying he had visited a recent protest held by his constituents, Rowley said the officers on duty had been very heavily armed, but seemed to lack leadership on the spot.

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