Interviews will resume shortly for the top four posts in the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda (RPFAB) and the minister of national security and labour is hopeful for a decision to be made by month-end.
Speaking on OBSERVER Radio’s Voice of the People on Thursday, Dr Errol Cort said the exercise, which began last month, was halted for the Christmas season, but would more than likely be completed by the middle of this month.
Presently, four Canadian lawmen, headed by Commissioner of Police Thomas Bennett, have been operating in these positions. Their two-year tenure will conclude at the end of February.
According to the national security minister, competence is one of the main characteristics needed to fill the positions. He said that the prospective top cops are given numerous scenarios and are then required to explain how they would respond to given situations. All the interviews are recorded so that the prospects’ answers could be reviewed by the interviewers, Dr Cort added.
“They (the four Canadian police officers) have been spending quite a bit of time seeking to identify suitable persons and ensure all persons, whether at the bottom or at the top, receive adequate and continuous training,” the minister said.
After the interview process is completed, the four Canadian lawmen will forward their recommendations to the Police Service Commission for consideration, he noted. The information will be sent to him and a decision will be made in consultation with the prime minister, who would likely take the matter to Cabinet for a final decision to be made, Dr Cort said.
The national security minister said he is hoping for a decision to be made by the end of this month out of fairness to the Canadians. He said it is the four men’s prerogative to be given adequate notice about the decision.
Dr Cort added that a “technical analysis” will be done to see if locals can “effectively manage the force.”
“We are assessing, at the moment, our capability to effectively take over the running of the force at the highest level, ie, commissioner coming down,” he said.
Commenting on residents’ opinion on the capability of locals to effectively head the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda, the minister said they are on both ends of the spectrum. Some have said it is time for the Canadians to leave because the local officers are competent, while others believe the Canadians should remain.
He said that the Canadians have written a position paper on their availability or lack thereof when their term ends. Without disclosing the contents of this document, Dr Cort reserved the right to do so at a later date.
Lauding the four men for their service to the people of Antigua & Barbuda, he said, “… The Canadians, in my view, have done a pretty good job in terms of helping to further build the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda.”
“ … They certainly have placed a lot of emphasis on training. That is key to anything, whether it’s in police or business …you need to make sure that folks are constantly trained and re-trained.”
The minister with responsibility for the police added, “It’s not good to say that you go to the police training school and then you come out and you are a brilliant cop. This requires a constant upgrading of knowledge, new technologies … and just making sure that your folks are on the cutting edge…”
Therefore, it is very important for training to be ongoing even after the Canadians leave, he said.