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A 21st century psc needed
With the controversy over the appraisal process used by the Police Service Commission being thrust forcefully into the limelight, one wonders how the Commission is going to re-engineer itself into a 21st century body to conduct complete assessments of senior police officers.
With the publication of deputy Commissioner Jack Ewatski’s letter to the chairman of the Commission, Prof Ramesh Deosaran, in the Guardian last Monday and the revelation of the retention of Senior Counsel by the Commissioner Dwayne Gibbs in last Tuesday’s Guardian, it is possible that the hunt could be on for a new Commission.
The reality is that there are problems with the appraisal process as three senior members of the Police Service have their own difficulties. Gibbs has responded to the Commission through his attorney, Ewatski has refused to sign his appraisal and has written a letter seeking a fair and objective process, and Stephen Williams has flat out disagreed with his appraisal.
In the midst of all of this, there is a question mark about the procurement of a test period for a light aircraft to assist the Police with air surveillance. The opinion from the Solicitor General on this was read in Parliament by the Prime Minister when she wound up the debate on the motion of no confidence against her. That matter is now with the Police Service Commission.
As we move into our 50th year of independence, it seems as though the Police Service Commission has become a lightning rod for controversy. If it was not about how many Indians were in senior positions in the Service, it is about two Caucasian Canadians who were properly hired to their positions being made to feel unwelcome and being told so to their faces. Prior to all of that, it was about the manner in which James Philbert was terminated from his position as acting Commissioner of Police by the Police Service Commission.
Is it time for the country to get a 21st century Police Service Commission? A commission that can inspire confidence in the public and leave the officers to fight crime instead of being used as a bully pulpit for somebody to give officers a 13-point plan for crime fighting and being given copies of controversial academic journals to read.
The letter written by Jack Ewatski to chairman Deosaran was most enlightening as it provided a completely different perspective about crime fighting that has obviously been missed in the evaluation process. Can the process used by the Commission be classified as a 21st century one or are we still using dated appraisal processes?
The last two appearances by chairmen of the Police Service Commission before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament led to controversy. In the earlier case, the President removed Nizam Mohammed from office as chairman, while the second one has left a bitter taste as a one-sided view of Commissioner Gibbs was presented to the public.
The backlash to all of that has now come in the form of Ewatski’s letter to Deosaran being leaked to the Guardian, Gibbs seeking legal advice to engage the Commission, and Williams disagreeing with his appraisal. It appears that there are elements within the Government who also seem to think that both Gibbs and Ewatski should go, but they are not the ones with the power to dismiss them or are they? The issue of Gibbs and Ewatski being contract officers and Williams being a career police officer does raise jurisdictional questions that ought to be clarified in the public interest.
If there is a statistical reduction in crime in the country should the leadership of the Police Service be given credit for it or somebody else? If there is a statistical increase in crime should the same persons be blamed or should that be shifted somewhere else? Right now the Police Service Commission appears to be out of their league on this one. Chairman Deosaran has had a lot to say about Gibbs, but it seems that some of his staff have let him down because the knockout punch that was supposed to put away both Gibbs and Ewatski has now backfired.
Questionable appraisals and surveys being used against employees is not the hallmark of someone who has had a distinguished academic career. Unfortunately, he and his colleagues now have a lot to answer for especially since it seems as though they are divided among themselves.
I have spoken before in this column about the xenophobic factor that has operated against Gibbs and Ewatski in some parts of the society. The Police Service Commission has to be careful that some of the public comments that have been made about both gentlemen are not construed as bias against them in the controversy over whether the appraisal process has been fair or not.
The public are so crime-weary that many are not concerned about anyone’s xenophobic agenda to get rid of two foreign officers, they want results to reduce crime in their communities. If the foreign officers can do it, then give them a fair chance.
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