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In search of a CoP

With the Government’s rejection of acting Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Deodat Dulalchan, another humiliating chapter has been written into the tragedy that the nomination of the leadership of the Police Service has become.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley cited source documents used by the Police Service Commission (PSC) as the basis for their choice of candidates as the reason for the vote against not just Dulalchan, but the entire selection process.

That process, a sticking point for successive administrations, was the subject of an inquiry before a parliamentary special select committee, the resulting report and recommendations have now been laid in Parliament.

What became quite public for Dulalchan in particular, were questions over his receipt of state lands in Felicity, allocation of which led to the suspension of three of the most senior public servants of the Ministry of Agriculture.

But an internal investigation cleared the officials of any wrongdoing, and bolstered the assertion of Dulalchan–the leading candidate at the time for the Commissioner of Police’s (CoP) post–that he did nothing wrong in the matter.

Former PSC chairman Dr Marie-Therese Gomes, whose tenure in that role ended in January, stands by the decisions made by the commission under her leadership. Gomes further defended the PSC’s work, which she described as rigorous since it began in February 2016.

Three governments have presided over a selection process for the top brass of the service that has been clearly broken for more than a decade. KPMG TT, a firm of professional advisers, was contracted to assist with the selection and recruitment process in August 2017, but will they be repairing a broken system or engineering a new procedure?

The last formal appointment to the post of CoP was Dwayne Gibbs, whose work in the role, exemplified by his 21st century policing system found no favour with the government after two years and he resigned in July 2012. Since then, Stephen Williams has stepped up from DCP to eternally acting CoP, earning a humiliating record of 12 successive six-month appointments to lead his officers.

In May, former PSC chairman Ramesh Deosaran called for an apology to Williams, speaking in Jamaica to Caribbean CoPs.

“It’s a matter of principle,” he said.

Williams’ era will most likely come to an end this year. In September, his current extension will terminate and he has the option of taking two years of accumulated vacation leave, which will take him to retirement age. As his tenure ends, Williams can justifiably claim to have worked to lead the service with professionalism and grace. What can governments say about their role in fixing a broken system for selecting the leadership of the Police Service.

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