Thanks to the Police Service Commission (PolSC), the country has landed in the bizarre situation of having not one, but two acting Commissioners of Police, both presumably on full salary with perks.
One, Gary Griffith, is occupying the Commissioner’s official residence; while the other, McDonald Jacob, is occupying the Commissioner’s office.
This state of affairs as laid out in a letter to acting CoP Griffith by the Commission’s chairman, Bliss Seepersad, is to continue “until further notice”, which could be a matter of days, weeks or years.
With every step it makes, the PolSC seems to go deeper into the legal quagmire that it created for itself having failed to address, on a timely basis, the vacancy created when Griffith’s three-year contract as CoP ended on August 17.
Yesterday’s flurry of correspondence has now effectively moved this saga from a simmering pot to one ready to boil over.
The mystery is how the PolSC managed to turn an ordinary recruitment process into a ball of confusion with the potential to rock the constitutional foundations of the country.
The PolSC still needs to account for why, with less than a month to go before Griffith’s term expired, it was still advertising for applicants for the CoP’s job. The Government, too, must also explain its decision to amend the law as recently as June to allow Griffith to be kept on beyond his term as acting Commissioner. Logic would suggest that when Griffith’s term ended, Deputy Commissioner McDonald Jacob would have been appointed to act in the position, pending the appointment of the next CoP. In that case, with his contract expired and being an applicant for the position, Griffith would have had to leave the office and await the completion of the process.
There are mysteries in the sequence of events between June and now which must be untangled if the public is to understand the mess that the PolSC has made of the simple task of filling the vacancy in the office of the Commissioner of Police.
Given the fact that just one month ago the PolSC had enough confidence in Griffith to ask him to stay on in an acting capacity, chairman Seepersad and her team will have a hard time convincing the population that there is no link between the Prime Minister’s privately-conducted investigation into the granting of Firearm User’s Licences and whatever, according to her, “caused an investigation into certain matters to be initiated” which now warrants Griffith’s suspension.
The situation is now further complicated by the written assurance given to Griffith by the independent investigator, Justice Stanley John, that the remit given to him by the PolSC in reviewing the report of the investigation into the issuing of FULs does not involve any investigation of Griffith. On the basis of this, it will be interesting to see where the PolSC goes from here in its attempt to keep Griffith off the job.
Whatever it does next, the PolSC must ensure that it does not create even more new problems. However, based on its track record so far, we will not hold our breath.