PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad– In light of a High Court judge ruling that invalidated Gary Griffith’s appointment as acting Commissioner of Police (CoP), Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds has assured the Police Service will have someone in charge.
He announced Thursday evening that Deputy Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob, who was acting in Griffith’s place while off the job, will lead the Trinidad Police Service (TPS).
Jacob’s acting CoP appointment after Griffith went on leave and was temporarily suspended has also been declared null and void by Justice Nadia Kangaloo.
But Hinds said in his statement: “While there is a vacancy in the post of Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob, by his being the most senior police officer in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, remains in charge of the said Police Service from this substantive office until a Commissioner of Police is appointed by the now settled law.”
“As Minister of National Security, and on behalf of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, I here give the public the assurance that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service will continue to execute its responsibility to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, without let or hindrance, as it is so mandated under the laws of Trinidad and Tobago,” the National Security Minister added.
Justice Kangaloo had handed down her judgment in a matter filed by social activist Ravi Balgobin Maharaj who petitioned the court to rule on the procedure set out Section 123 of the Constitution governing the power of the Police Service Commission (PolSC) to appoint a substantive CoP and acting CoP.
Griffith, whose three-year contract as top cop ended on August 17, was appointed to act in the position by the PolSC from August 18. However, he was suspended from duty on September 21 while on leave, pending an investigation into allegations of corruption in granting firearm licenses.
That suspension was subsequently revoked after he took the PolSC to court, but he agreed to stay off the job pending the probe’s outcome.
Maharaj had filed an interpretation lawsuit in which he argued that the PolSC needed the approval of the House of Representatives to make acting and substantive appointments for the Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioners of Police.
Justice Kangaloo agreed that Section 123 (2) to (5) of the Constitution was not followed.
Under that section, the PCS was required to prepare a list with its nominations and have it issued to the President, who would then have it given to the House of Representatives for consideration and approval by both the Prime Minister and leader Opposition. Although the list was sent to President Weekes on August 12, it was not issued to Parliament, but the PolSC appointed Griffith to act.
Minister Hinds said the judge’s decision had resolved the interpretation of the Constitution about the appointment of an Acting Commissioner of Police.