Prof Deosaran: Police Service more vulnerable to political pressure

For­mer chair­man of the Po­lice Ser­vice Com­mis­sion and in­de­pen­dent sen­a­tor Prof Ramesh De­osaran says the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice (TTPS) has now be­come more vul­ner­a­ble to po­lit­i­cal pres­sure. He said such ex­pect­ed pres­sures, how­ev­er, can be mit­i­gat­ed or re­sist­ed as long as the po­lice do what is right and do­ing it the right way, fair­ly and fear­less­ly.

De­osaran gave his fea­ture ad­dress on po­lice chal­lenges and con­cerns to re­tired po­lice of­fi­cers, Po­lice Batch 1969-2011, Cel­e­brat­ing Broth­er­hood, at the Po­lice Bar­racks, St James, on Sat­ur­day.

De­osaran said “This is a time when the man­age­ment and op­er­a­tions of the TTPS are be­ing sub­ject­ed to in­tense pub­lic and po­lit­i­cal scruti­ny for six ma­jor rea­sons.”

He list­ed the six ma­jor rea­sons:

1: the colour­ful char­ac­ter of the Com­mis­sion­er who con­tin­ues to live a charmed life.

2: the un­set­tling po­lit­i­cal process through which the Com­mis­sion­er was ap­point­ed.

3: the trou­bling mur­der rate, the wide­spread fear of crime, the rel­a­tive­ly low de­tec­tion rate and the po­lit­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions.

4: lin­ger­ing pub­lic con­cerns about po­lice in­tegri­ty.

5: so­cial me­dia and call-in ra­dio be­ing mer­ci­less in com­plain­ing about crime—re­port­ed and non­re­port­ed—and the trou­bling lev­el of po­lice re­sponse to cit­i­zens’ com­plaints.

6: the pol­i­tics of polic­ing con­nect­ed to the in­creased fo­cus on white-col­lar crime and state cor­rup­tion es­pe­cial­ly where high-lev­el pri­vate sec­tor and pub­lic of­fi­cers are in­volved.

“These con­di­tions find the po­lice sur­round­ed by crim­ino­genic news-car­ry­ing and dead­ly po­lit­i­cal ru­mours,” he said

“It must be not­ed that while po­lice man­age­ment and the Com­mis­sion­er’s vis­i­bil­i­ty have key strate­gic roles, much of the op­er­a­tional de­tails, catch­ing the crooks as it were, rests on the in­tegri­ty and com­pe­tence of Sec­ond Di­vi­sion of­fi­cers.

“In such cir­cum­stances, the Po­lice Ser­vice should be de­politi­cised as far as pos­si­ble in or­der to gain cit­i­zens’ con­fi­dence to serve as wit­ness­es, to re­port on il­le­gal guns and drugs, and even on po­lice mis­con­duct.”

He said the po­lice com­plaint bu­reau­cra­cy should be de­cen­tralised from Port-of-Spain in­to var­i­ous out­ly­ing dis­tricts as far as pos­si­ble.

De­osaran said the ju­di­cial pro­tec­tion to wit­ness­es now pro­posed by cur­rent leg­is­la­tion was quite wel­come.

He said some 60 years af­ter In­de­pen­dence, es­pe­cial­ly dur­ing the last 25 years, the TTPS was ex­pect­ed to de­vel­op top-lev­el in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing sys­tems, so­phis­ti­cat­ed in­ves­tiga­tive and sur­veil­lance tech­niques, ef­fec­tive man­age­ment, lead­er­ship and hu­man re­source ca­pa­bil­i­ties, staff as­sess­ment tech­niques to dis­cov­er and train the best for suc­ces­sion plan­ning, top to bot­tom, and a dis­ci­pli­nary sys­tem that was fair and ef­fec­tive.

De­osaran said much of this now seemed to be works in progress. Far too of­ten, rea­sons have been put for­ward to im­port for­eign of­fi­cers to do work that the TTPS’s own of­fi­cers could do or should have been trained a long time ago to do.

He said tech­nol­o­gy could be bought, over­seas train­ing could be con­tin­ued, but when you have a lo­cal cadre of well-trained, able and will­ing of­fi­cers to do the work, let them try and learn as oth­er coun­tries have done with theirs.