Trinidad and Tobago Special Select Committee to investigate issues surrounding appointment of Commissioner of Police

Keith Rowley

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad  -The Trinidad and Tobago Parliament on Friday agreed to the establishment of a Special Select Committee to look into the issues surrounding the appointment of a police commissioner and a deputy after legislators said they needed further information regarding the nomination of two people for the post by the Police Service Commission (PSC).

Both Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar gave support to the motion amid public disquiet over the process and procedures used by the Commission in nominating two senior police officers – Deodat Dulalchan and Harold Phillip – for the top posts that have been vacant since 2012, when Canadians Dwayne Gibbs and Jack Ewatski resigned.

Under the Constitution, the PSC, which is charged with the process for selection of the two top positions,  is answerable only to the President, who had earlier submitted the names to Parliament for approval on Friday.

Media reports said that both men had not applied for the position of top cop, but yet Dulalchan was nominated for the post of police commissioner by the PSC and Phillip for the deputy position.

Rowley told legislators that given the lack of information and the public disquiet “we are not in a position to conclude this process” adding “the House needs assistance to have questions answered”.

He called for an adjournment of the process so as to allow for further information to be obtained.

“It is not in dispute that the agency of the state that is responsible for policing the state under the law is the police,” he said adding that “every citizen has an interest in the effective functioning of the service”.

Rowley said that there is no doubt that the police service needed “revolutionary leadership” given the state of the crime situation in the country.

Persad Bissessar in supporting the move to establish the special select committee said that it would allow for answers that would be an “integral part of our democracy”.

She read from a letter which she had earlier sent to Prime Minister Rowley indicating that both the government and the opposition approach President Anthony Carmona informing him that “the public interest requires that the Commission make full disclosure of all the material that was considered in the matter to both the Government and the Opposition in order for the Parliament to effectively discharge its duty in this matter.”

“Without full disclosure,” she said, any debate in the Parliament will be “futile.”

National Security Minister Retired Brigadier Edmund Dillon said that crime is foremost on the minds of the public and that it was important for the agency dealing with crime to be properly manned.

The motion allows for the Special Select Committee to “obtain information, documentation and or evidence relevant to and or touching and concerning the method, process, criterion and consideration utilised by the Police Service Commission and or the firm employed by the Police Service Commission in the selection of the candidates…”

The Committee has until March 31 to submit its report.